The Science of Charisma
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Welcome, welcome to this class on Your Charisma Cues. For those of you who don't know me my name is Vanessa Van Edwards, I'm the best selling author of "Captivate," and soon, "Cues," what did I think is hiding behind me? I'm also founder at Science of People. We are a human behavior research lab. My mission is to help you reach your goals faster using very cool science and very unique tips. Today, we are talking about one of my favorite topics, charisma. So, I like to joke, that I'm a recovering awkward person. Which means that social skills, charisma, making a good first impression, having a strong presence, never, ever came naturally to me. And so I was always curious; what makes someone charismatic? So a couple years ago in our lab, we did a little test. We brought people into our labs and ask them two different questions. The first question, and I'm hoping you'll answer this with me now, is, who is the most charismatic person you know? So just think about tha...
t person for a second, brainstorm who is the most charismatic person you know. So on average, it took people about three seconds to answer this question. Very quickly, they could think of, oh, my best friend, or my boss, or my dad, or my third grade teacher. They could almost immediately mention that very charismatic person, or even two or three. The next question is where things got a little more interesting. So the next question we asked was, what is charisma? This time, people really struggled with the answer. In fact, on average it took them about 15 seconds to answer, what is charisma? We realized in this lab experiment, that charisma is one of the very unique traits that you know the moment you see it, when a high charismatic person walks into a room, you are immediately captivated by them. But at the same time it's a trait that we have a hard time defining. It's a trait that we have a hard time bottling for ourselves, until now. So today I wanna break down what is the science of charisma? What does it mean to be charismatic? Fascinating research from Princeton University looked at highly charismatic people. They found that very highly charismatic people rank off the charts in two specific traits. Now what's key about these two traits is that highly charismatic people are different from the control groups and they rank high, equally, in both these traits. So very highly charismatic people, first they're warm, they're trustworthy, they're friendly, they're likable, they're collaborative, but at the very same time, they're competent. They are broadcasting along with that likability also cues of power, of being impressive, of being capable of being productive and efficient. We love to be around people who hit that perfect balance of warmth and competence. We feel we can trust them. We can open up to them, but that also they're gonna get things done. My goal today, my mission today is to help you hit this sweet spot, to help you find your inner warmth and your inner competence. What I was amazed by is that we, when we think about traits, when we think about being highly charismatic, we think about all different things from being funny, to being cheerful, to being optimistic. but actually it all comes down to warmth and competence. This is a chief researcher of the study, Dr. Susan Fisk. She found that 82% of our judgements of people are all based on warmth and competence. Now, I don't know about you but I thought this was really good news. I don't have to worry about all the traits. I just have to worry about these two. And if I can master that warmth and that competence in an authentic way, that means I'm coming across as my most charismatic self. So, to make this easy, I made a chart. For those of you who know me, you know I love a chart. I love some science. So let me break this down. So this comes directly from the research in that we have two different sides, right? We have our warm side, our likable trustworthy side, and our competent side, our ability to get things done. By the way, when we think about warmth and competence a kind of easy trick that I use myself in my head, is warmth is when people ask, can I trust you? Competence is when people ask, can I rely on you? Those are the two questions that we have to answer immediately when we're interacting with people. So if the answer is yes to both, yes, I can trust you, and yes, I can rely on you, you hit the sweet spot. I call that the charisma zone. I also like to call this the Oprah zone, right? For those of you, Oprah is the most charismatic person. This is the Oprah zone. Or if you like a different flavor, the Ted Lasso zone, depending on what you like better. Okay? So this is the most charismatic person you mentioned a couple minutes ago, I want you to think of that person; they are right here in that charisma sweet spot. Here's the problem. Most of us have an imbalance. Most of us do not hit that perfect sweet spot of warmth and competence. That's why those compelling, magnetic, captivating, people captivate us. It's cause they're rare birds. The problem is that when we have an imbalance when we're too high in warmth or too high in competence, or not enough of either, that is the cause of most of our people problems. When we look at people not taking you seriously, when we look at people interrupting you or ignoring you, when you feel like you're not included or liked, that is about your warmth and competence. Us together right here today, solving your warmth and competence, can help fix your people problems. Are you ready? Should we fix them?. All right. Let's start with warmth. So I want you to look at this scale, and I want you to try to place yourself on it. Don't worry. You can keep it private. I think where we fall on the charisma scale is a little bit private. Are you a little higher in warmth? If you're higher in warmth that means you are highly likable, highly trustworthy. My highly warmth folks, you're typically a little more empathetic, a little more compassionate. You know, you're highly warm if everyone in your life comes to you with their problems. Is this you? So you are highly warm if you sit down on a plane and the person next to you just verbal vomits their entire life story, that's high warmth, and that's cause high warm people are open. They are accepting. They are often cheerleaders. They are collaborators. They are great team players. They have a lot of strengths. The problem is, if you have an imbalance of too much warmth without showcasing your competence, you can have all the competence in the world but if you don't know how to showcase that competence, if you have too much warmth, people will not take you seriously. A really, really horrible side effect of the highly warm folks is people love to work with you, but they interrupt you. They don't take your ideas seriously. You're passed over for opportunities. You have trouble getting that raise or getting a raise out of your clients. You also have people who push back on your rates. So if you're a creative entrepreneur and you're high in warmth, people love working with you. But when it comes to paying that invoice, they wanna ask for a little discount, like for friends, family, friends and family discount. They don't believe your numbers as much. And what's really hard about this is this can lead you to question your worth. So my mission today is for you to keep that high warmth. I want you to be likable, and collaborative, and open, but I want you to balance it out with that competence, so people take you seriously, so people want to pay your worth. All right, let's talk about my competence folks. So my competence folks, you can get it done. By the way kind of two funny things in our meeting here is let's say that you're sitting down with a client, or you're sitting down with a colleague, a highly warm person, they are all about building rapport. They wanna ask, "How is your weekend? How are the kids? How's soccer going? How's that personal passion project?' Highly competent folks are all about getting it done. They love an agenda. They love data, and PowerPoints, and keynotes, and lists, this is me, you'll see a lot of charts. I try to balance out all that, all those charts, with a little bit of stories, a little bit of warmth. Highly competent folks, they wanna make sure they're always getting things right. So you'll notice this is a symptom of a highly competent folks, they will always Google fact check you. So this is a, you're talking a highly competent person. And you say something they're like, "I don't know. Let me just check that for a second. I'm gonna ask the Google. I don't know, this is a peer review journal. So, I take this one over it." That's a highly competent person and that's because they value getting things right. Neither of these are right or wrong. Neither of these are better or worse. But I need you to know where you default, so we can work, to authentically hitting that sweet spot. This, (mimics the cry of an owl) this quote struck fear in my heart when I read it from Dr. Susan Fisk's work. "Competence without warmth is likely leave us feeling suspicious." This is the biggest problem of brilliant people. Talented, brilliant, exceptionally smart people want to show their brilliance and their smarts. So they come into a pitch, they come into a negotiation, and they wanna hit you with their smarts and all the things they know. But the problem is if you don't have the warmth, it leaves people doubting your smarts. So we have to think of it as this is not just about being your smartest self, it's also making sure that we're adding that element, that variable of trust, along with that competence. Because this is what I see a lot happen to my very, very brilliant people, is they leave people feeling suspicious and they wonder why people doubt them. All right. Ugh. The last one, the danger zone. So the danger zone is a funny place because I've noticed that sometimes people feel that they don't understand their cues, we're gonna be talking about cues a lot in a little bit, they don't understand how to show up. So they walk into a room, or they hop on a video call, or they open up an email, they're not sure how to show up. They're not sure how to be their warmest and most competent self. And so they under signal, they withhold all their cues. I think this comes from poker, right? Poker players, to hide they have a really good hand or a really bad hand, they mute. They try to go as still as possible. They try to under signal. The problem is when we under signal, we don't show enough warmth or competence, we go in a danger zone. This is when people have trouble reading us. If you've been told that you're stoic or hard to read, or hard to relate to, you could be in this danger zone that you're not signaling enough warmth and competence to let people grasp on. I'm in the danger zone. So this is my, I think fourth or fifth grade picture. So because I am so, as I joke, I'm a recovering awkward person, for so many years I felt like I didn't belong. And so what that happened is I ended up turning in on myself. I wanted to not be noticed. I under signaled. And the problem is is the more I under signaled the more I was in the danger zone, and it created this whole horrible cycle of social anxiety. So if anyone who's watching ever felt like you were overwhelmed, socially anxious, couldn't process all the cues being sent to you, I am so with you. There is a way out of the danger zone. I'm gonna show you, I'm gonna show you the way out. Okay. So very first challenge. I want you to take out a piece of paper or just in your head right now, I want you to place yourself on the charisma scale. So just very honest, don't worry. No one has to see it. So where do you think you fall? Are you in the charisma zone or are you in the Oprah or Ted Lasso zone? It's a good place to be. Are you competent or warm, or are you worried that you're an under signaler? Bonus challenge here. Sometimes, I've learned, that my students say that at work they're one thing and at home they're another. Great, bonus points here. If you wanna do me at work, and me socially, or me with my kids, and with my partner, so if you wanna have multiple yous, that's also really helpful. It's really helpful to know where you go on your best day and where you go on your worst day. Cause sometimes on our worst day, we might you know, under signal, (indistinct) That's okay. You can put me on my worst day, but on your very best day, where are you on the charisma scale? If you need to pause right now and just take some self-reflection, this is an incredibly important aspect of what we're gonna talk about next, of how we dial up. So take a minute place yourself. Okay. Now I want you to think about the 10 people you interact with most, the 10 people who touch your to-do list the most, the 10 people who occupy the most mind space, and I want you to place them on the charisma scale. So this could be a friend. It could be a partner. It could be a sibling, a boss, a colleague. It could be your top three clients. It could even be a group of people, so HR, or a team, if you wanna group them together. What I wanna do here is I wanna get a snapshot of your life right now because I as you begin this exercise and I've watched thousands of students do this exercise with the charisma scale, and it is a fascinating, because sometimes people find that they're all grouped in one part of the charisma scale, that everyone is in warmth and they attract warm people and they're around warm people all the time. Or you might see a huge overlay of people all over the scale. Or you might notice that you're opposite with someone in your life. Is there someone in your life who you don't get along with or you have the most miscommunications with? Are they in a different part of the scale as you? Are you highly warm and they are all the way over in competence. This is going to help us uncover some of the hidden reasons for some of those miscommunications that you might be having. All right, here's the next step. So not only are warmth and competence essential for your charisma, essential for how you come across to others, warmth and competence cues also trigger the warmth and competence in others. When I started researching for cues, what changed the way that I think about people is that we don't just wanna be our most charismatic self, we also wanna help others be their most charismatic self. The gift we have with our cues is that they are positively contagious. If you are warm and competent, it triggers and cues everyone in the room to also feel like they are warm and competent. And so these cues are not just important for you. They are a gift to the people you interact with, that the more you can show up as your most trustworthy likable, warm self, and your most, get it done, powerful, memorable self, that's gonna help others perform at their best as well. So there's kind of a secret bonus on the side of these cues as well. All right, let's break down cues. So I mentioned cues. I spent the last few years diving deep into the research. So cues, very specifically, are the social signals we send to each other; non-verbally, vocally, verbally, and through imagery. So there are four different channels that we communicate our cues. So non-verbally: our body language, our posture our gestures, our facial expressions. Verbally: the words we use that one's the cue channel we think about the most often. Then vocally: vocally is how we say our words, our volume, our pace, our cadence, all of those indicate things about our warmth and competence. And the last one, the, the sneaky one is imagery; the colors we wear, you notice I'm in some, some cues red, that's a color, that's a cue that I'm wearing. So the colors we wear, the props in our background, in our zoom background, what we're holding in a video or a profile picture, all the images on our marketing materials and our websites, those are all imagery cues, which are also sending signals of warmth and competence. It, to bear with me, I got a cheesy metaphor. I got a cheesy metaphor. This is my cheesy metaphor. So when I talk to really smart people and they say I have great ideas, I have a gift to share with the world, I have talent I wanna share, I'd like you to think about your ideas, your talents, your skills are like a car, cues are the gas that makes the ideas move. So we can have the best ideas in the world. We can be the most talent, the skilled individual, but we if we don't have gas or electric, okay, if you're electric then there's also electric, then we don't have cues to run our ideas. The right cues are what get our ideas to go far. They're what get our ideas to get to the right people. They're what help our ideas land and get to our destination. So we're talking about here is the gasoline for your ideas; how we get them to move fast. We can also upgrade your ideas. Like, look at that. No, I don't want that car. What if cues can also upgrade your car, by the way, choose your favorite car of choice here, those are also going to help upgrade your car. In other words, cues make our ideas look better. Cues, make our ideas, sound better. Cues, make our ideas more sticky, make us wanna have them, make us wanna ride them, make us wanna buy them. We like buying from people, talking to people, interacting with people who are charismatic, who are warm and competent. And so it's also a nice and easy way to upgrade your idea car. Hopefully many of you have taken some of my other creative live classes. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much. If you've been with me over the last almost decade. Oh, I know I've aged, right? We've all aged. Hopefully these classes you've taken some of them. So if you've come from, or if you haven't taken already, the Power of Negotiation, this is my mini class on how to negotiate your worth, how to make sure to raise your rates. If you've taken my Power of Happiness class on how you can be happier, your most authentic self, how you can take control of your feelings, if you've taken my Master your People's Skills class, in fact, in my Master your People Skills class I briefly mentioned warmth and competence, because that was the beginning of my journey. So while I was teaching Master People Skills which are the people skills that professionals should know, I was just starting this warmth and competence research. So I gave a little bit of an extra on there but this is the advanced master class now that that research is done. And of course, if you've taken my Power of Body Language class you're gonna love some of the nonverbal cues I teach today, but also I'm gonna add some verbal and vocal cues that we didn't get to talk about in those classes. So I'm hoping that if you've taken all of these one of them, none of them, today is for you. No matter if you're interested in happiness, people skills body language, and negotiation, if we can be our most charismatic self, that helps us get our ideas heard. So, with that, I cannot wait to get started into our next skill. We're gonna talk about nonverbal, vocal, imagery. and then some final challenges. (music begins and fades)