Charisma is essentially your ability to make people like you and, at the same time, to make them like and feel good about themselves. Words don’t cost a nickel, and if you use them properly, they are powerful affirmations that give you personal appeal. Here are some ways to work that charisma!
Weak: “Good morning.”
Powerful: “Good morning, Andy.” (With a smile.)
Instead of mumbling a “good morning” to someone, wear a smile, speak clearly and confidently, and use the person’s name. In fact, remember as many people’s names as you can. A person’s name is the most important word he hears every day. And most people don’t hear their own names enough.
The converse is true as well: over the years, the people I have considered the most miserable and personably dislikable were those who didn’t smile or who looked the other way when I said hello. Maybe they were perfectly fine human beings who preferred to keep to themselves. But they held little positive sway over me or anyone else.
Weak: “Get it done.”
Powerful: “I have faith in your ability, and I know you’ll make this happen.”
I have been redirected by many a boss over the years. Most times I had it coming. But even so, most times I also left the encounter upset, my bruised ego hurting, and my defense mechanisms smoking after being fully engaged.
There are, however, those times when I left feeling a little less bruised and a lot more encouraged. Those are the times the boss ended by saying that she had overriding faith in my abilities and my professionalism.
What a nice way to end any sort of talk, whether it’s disciplinary, motivational, or otherwise. Tell someone that you have faith in her and that you know, when all is said and done, that she will come through for you.
Weak: “Get it done.”
Powerful: “I’m counting on you.”
Instead of begging, nagging, or ordering someone to do something, why not instead tell him that you need him? People like to be needed, and they enjoy feeling appreciated. When someone says “I need you,” or “I’m counting on you,” the implication is that you have something, no matter how seemingly minor, that few others can readily provide. It creates a wonderful feeling of self-worth.
If you’re counting on someone to make something happen, don’t downplay your sole dependence on him. Tell him his services are unique. (Of course, if he’s got you over a barrel, you had better find someone else with a similar skill.) His feeling of merit is likely to prompt him to get the job done.
Weak: “You’ll have to accomplish this menial task before I trust you with more difficult ones.”
Powerful: “This is too important a responsibility for just anyone.”
Along the lines of telling someone that you’re counting on him, as mentioned previously, emphasize the importance of a responsibility—every time—over the amount or level of difficulty involved.
Yes, maybe your child wants to bake using the oven before he knows how to boil water. But if you’re prepping dinner together, don’t say, “Hey, you gotta learn to boil water before you turn that oven on.” Instead, stress the necessity of the boiled water for the entire meal, and make that task important. Eventually he’ll understand the small cooking tasks and move up to the more involved ones. And then he’ll become a young adult and you’ll never see him in the kitchen again.
Weak: “Excuse me while I get an expert opinion.”
Powerful: “May I ask your opinion?”
Don’t simply recognize the unique skills that people bring to the table (although it’s important that you do recognize them). Recognize those things that they bring to the table same as everyone else, but maybe from a different perspective. People generally are a lot smarter than you think they are, and all kinds of people in the workplace notice all kinds of things that you might be missing.
Ask an accountant about the type of copier you’re thinking of purchasing. Ask a cab driver about politics. Ask the person who answers the phones about the lighting in the office. You’ll be surprised to find important, useful information from all of them. And you’ll be one step ahead by holding a different perspective or a counterintuitive point of view.
Weak: “Can you help me?”
Powerful: “Would you please help me?”
According to relationship expert John Gray (who wrote the series of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus books), men don’t like to be asked, “Can you help me?” Gray argues that a man innately and subliminally thinks that he’s simply being asked about his abilities and not for a favor—and no matter how many times a woman might keep asking or dropping a hint, it doesn’t fully register with the man!
Don’t ask either a man or a woman can you?; ask would you? instead. And throw a please in there to boot. Whether or not it has to do with our mental networking doesn’t really matter. If would you? gets more results than does can you? (and I argue that it does), and if would you? sounds more polite than can you? (and I argue that it does), then say would you? when asking for something. It’s effortless, and it carries more impact.
Weak: “Good job.”
Powerful: “Well done!”
More powerful: “It looks like you put a lot of effort into that project.”
The phrase “good job,” while appreciated, seems a bit clichéd these days—empty, like the phrase “how y’doing?” or “have a nice day.”
I suggest that the phrase “well done” is fresh enough to carry a more powerful impact. A complete sentence, with a verb and subject, carries even further. “Hey, you put a lot of hard work into that assignment. Way to go!”
Powerful: “Thanks, Jim. I appreciate your time.” (And maybe a quick, handwritten thank-you note to back it up.)
When you offer thanks, offer it from the heart. Look the person in the eye. Thank him for his time and energy. Use his first name. The more you convey your gratitude, the more likely he’ll work hard for you the next time around.
Use these simple techniques you will be winning people over in no time!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Power Words by Scott Snair, Ph.D.