Putting Charisma into interactions


Charisma is not all innate; it’s a learnable skill or, rather, a set of skills that have been practiced since antiquity

Charisma = influence born of the alchemy of Aristotle’s logos, ethos and pathos; i.e., to persuade others, you must use powerful and reasoned rhetoric, establish personal and moral credibility, and then rouse followers’ emotions and passions

E.g. of tactics used:

  • Connect, compare, contrast: using metaphors, similes, and analogies
    • M L King in his “I have a dream” speech compared the US Constitution to a “a promissory note” and noted that America had instead given its black citizens “a bad cheque”
    •  “When I heard about this from the board, it was like hearing about a long-awaited pregnancy. The difference is that we have four months instead of nine months to prepare.” The team instantly understood it was about to experience an uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding transition
    • “This reminds me of the challenge my team and I faced when climbing the Eiger peak a few years ago. We got caught in bad weather, and we could have died up there. But working together, we managed to survive. And we made what at first seemed impossible, possible. Today we are in an economic storm, but by pulling together, we can turn this situation around and succeed.” – inspiring and reassuring
    • “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
  • Engage, distill: rhetorical questions, three-part lists
    • “So, where do you want to go from here? Will it be back to your office feeling sorry for yourself? Or do you want to show what you are capable of achieving?”
    • “We have the best product on the market. We have the best team. Yet we did not make the sales target.”
  • Show integrity, authority and passion: moral conviction, group sentiment reflection, setting ambitious goals
    • “Who do you think will pay for the logistical mess we’ve created? It is not our donors who’ll feel it, but the children we’re supposed to be feeding that will go to bed one more time with an empty belly and who may not make it through the night. Apart from wasting money, this is not right, especially because the fix is so simple.”
    • “I know what is going through your minds, because the same thing is going through mine. We all feel disappointed and demotivated. Some of you have told me you have had sleepless nights; others, that there are tensions in the team, even at home because of this. Personally, life to me has become dull and tasteless. I know how hard we have all worked and the bitterness we feel because success just slipped out of our reach. But it’s not going to be like this for much longer. I have a plan.”



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