Physical attraction is important early in the dating process – no news there. However, what is less well known is that we can influence how physically attractive we are perceived to be. A study by Friedman, Riggio and Casella (1998) showed that those with specific charismatic skills were rated as being far more physically attractive than those who lacked these skills. Therefore, the development of particular skills and traits can make you more attractive and help you make a magnetic first impression.
So what are these skills?
1. Get in the right mindset
It has been said that we are each a twenty-four hour broadcasting system sending out hundreds of signals a minute. This is far too much to monitor and control on a moment-to-moment basis. Fortunately, there is a short cut to help us ‘broadcast’ the right charismatic cues and that is to get into a charismatic mindset. To do this, switch off the internal dialogue – this is a barrier to connection. Studies show that our mind wanders in conversation about 47% of the time and dating nerves probably increases this percentage. Instead, switch your focus entirely to the other person and focus on making them feel special and enjoying the experience. This mindset should manifest as warm inviting body language, so always try to stay in the present and focus on the other person.
2. If you do find yourself nervous, don’t fidget
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, fidgeting makes you look uncomfortable and even untrustworthy. This was vividly illustrated in the televised presidential debates in the 60’s. Many psychologists believe that Nixon’s fidgeting (which contrasted sharply with Kennedy’s charismatic poise) lost him the election. Secondly, the body transmits messages back to the brain, so physically relaxing the body tricks the brain into reducing anxiety which leaves you feeling more relaxed and able to enjoy your date.
3. Convey warmth
Warmth is one of the key factors in charisma. It is a major factor in personal attractiveness as it makes people feel safe, comfortable and encourages them to be communicative – exactly what you want to quell those early date nerves and get the conversation going. Additionally, if people feel good around you they are far more likely to be attracted to you.
4. Conversational style
We have focused primarily on non-verbal aspects of charisma, but what about conversation? The most uncharismatic thing you can do in any verbal exchange is interrupt. People actually feel resentful towards those who interrupt them. Often the concern on early dates is what to say, but focusing on your date will naturally lead you to be curious and ask questions. It’s also important to remember that your tone of voice is far more potent, in terms of the impact you have on someone, than the content of your words.
5. Remember the words of Shakespeare, ‘the apparel oft proclaims the man’ (or woman!)
Although charisma is not solely about appearance, it’s hard to imagine charismatic people looking ungroomed. People naturally take in a lot of visual information in the initial stages of dating as they are curious to find out more about you. Therefore ensure you present yourself well. That said, remember this important tip, ‘of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important’ (Zig Ziglar).
Above all, remember, you cannot fake these skills, you have to be genuine. We have all met people who have learned interpersonal tricks but don’t realise they actually present as disingenuous. People can read facial expressions in as little as seventeen milliseconds, so they can easily spot any pretence.
In the next and final blog of this series, we’ll look at how charismatic skills can help you build an amazing and meaningful relationship.
DePaulo, B. M. (1992). Nonverbal behaviour and self-presentation. Psychological Bulletin, vol 111(2), 203-243.
Friedman, H.S., Riggio, R.E. & Casella, D. F. (1998). Nonverbal Skill, Personal Charisma, and Initial Attraction. Social Psychology Bulletin, vol 14(1), 203-211.