Beguile for a while with a smile

 Oct 07, 2016

Is Charisma something that you are born with or something you can develop?

Perhaps the dictionary definition of this word, rather than narrowing it down, adds to the confusion. According to, Charisma is “a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.

If it’s a ‘spiritual’ power then it’s pretty hard to develop it. If it’s a personal quality perhaps we can. As a psychologist, like leadership, I think we can develop such a quality but. Again, like leadership, one needs to have a strong desire in order to get to that point, if it is not something that a person has developed in their growing process. So why do I think you can develop charisma?

Well, think about a time that that you have been in the presence of a person who you believe is/was charismatic. How did you feel about yourself in the encounter?

Most people usually say they felt ‘good’ about themselves.

Of course this could just be the euphoria we feel in the presence of someone we ‘think’ is remarkable, like a pop star when we are a teenager or a person we admire for their achievements. In this case there is more a projection onto this person from us than something coming from them.

But what of someone whom we have never met that beguiles us on our first encounter?

The first thing is that a charismatic person generally has confidence. They are self-assured and this is definitely something that can be developed.

There is often something alluring about people who have confidence, like a moth drawn to a flame. Perhaps it is as Nelson Mandela, a man who definitely had charisma, said: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”

That brings us to the second thing; there is something that charismatic people do in their behaviour that makes us feel good about the interaction we have with them. They compliment, take an interest or make us laugh along with them, for example. But this is where we need to be careful.

There are some who let their light shine but only want the focus on them, they are not comfortable when others’ lights shine around them so they will consciously or unconsciously do things that make sure others lights do not shine. They either need absolute power or their confidence is brittle and they do not like it when others burn bright around them.

Whilst these people can ‘beguile for a while with a smile’, because they may do some superficially charismatic behaviours, eventually they are exposed to have feet of clay. This can be even worse in the cases of some political leaders, cult leaders and stars who have been found to have appalling and unethical behaviours behind the scenes.

Seek not to ‘beguile for a while with a smile’, instead…develop a ‘light emission that gives permission’!

For more information, take a look at New Horizons' Business Communication courses.

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters' degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor's degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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