Earlier this week I found a great article by Michael Ellsberg about using eye contact and personal space to develop the same electric charisma experienced by almost everyone who has ever met President Bill Clinton in person. He points out a set of three rules that you can implement straight away to improve the impact you can have on people whether it is the first time you have met or someone you know well.


1. Practice being comfortable with making eye contact:

Try making eye contact with people you pass in the street, just long enough to see what their eye colour is. This should be short enough to not annoy or freak anyone out, but even it catches someone off guard simple smile and carry on your way.

2. Understand how to use personal space:

We all have an invisible bubble around us that is our comfort zone. The size of the bubble increases depending on the situation. For example, if you are in a crowded train you generally can accept physical contact. However, imagine that person that is pushed up against you turns to face you directly,  makes direct eye contact, starts talking about you or raises his voice… this is no longer comfortable. Try not to incorporate more than one of these at any point if you want to make someone feel comfortable.

3. Be present in the moment: 

People can tell if you are waiting to leave or if your mind is elsewhere. Instead, give your full attention to whoever you are speaking to and genuinely listen to what they have to say. This will make them feel valued and make you an addictive person to be around.

Read the full article here

The idea of being present and giving your full attention to someone is also outlined as one of the three pillars of charisma in the book ‘The Charisma Myth’ by Olivia Fox Cabane. She suggests that there are three qualities we look for in people when we first meet them; if this person possesses all of them then we will see them as a charismatic person. These three attributes are:

1. Power:
Can this person move mountains? Does she have influence, contacts, money, ideas or resources?

2. Presence:
Does this person value me and what I have to say?

3. Warmth:
Does this person like me? Would they move mountains for me?

This is exactly why, when meeting new people, you should really sell your work and interests in a positive light. No more brushing off your interesting qualities with: “oh, I’m just a [insert job], it’s kind of boring”. Instead, show yourself as someone of interest and value, give that person your full attention (using eye contact) and show them warmth… Boom! Bill Clinton charisma. Job done.

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