According to recent polls, dog poop and syphilis are both more popular than congress. If this is true, why then would I write a post called the charisma secrets of politicians? Because in those same polls, a majority of Americans like and approve of their congressman.
If someone can make you like them even though you dislike every other person like them; there has to be a secret worth learning. Here are five observations for you to consider.
They Make Great First Impressions
First impressions are a skill. Politicians learn this better than most because they have to. When you meet a good one, they’re pleasant, well dressed and you notice them right away.
A great first impression is more than just a good handshake and a smile, but they go a long way. Get the details right, and they won’t be the only ones being noticed.
They Can Read A Room
One of the biggest parts of charisma is being able to take the temperature of any room that you walk into. Lyndon Johnson once said that any politician worth a salt can tell who’s with him and who’s not in the first 30 seconds of entering any room.
Who’s paying attention when you speak? Who’s smiling? Who’s not? Notice these details, read the room and understand who’s with you and who’s not. It will dramatically increase your level of charisma.
They Dress To Fit In
When I was a kid, my dad always pointed out that during an election, politicians would have their sleeves rolled up like they were working. It would make a blue collar guy who actually worked, laugh
You don’t see this much any more though. Now when you see an effective politician, they look like the people in the room they’re working. Sometimes it’s a great navy suit, other times it’s a sharp blazer, but just as likely it’s sport shirt and dark wash jeans. Part of their charisma is that they stand out, but don’t stick out. The dress to fit in.
I’ve had the opportunity to observe a lot of effective politicians and one thing that the great ones all have in common is that they take a genuine interest in the people they’re talking to.
The great politicians that I’ve been around asked a lot more questions than they answer. They take a genuine interest in the people in the room. They ask about their families, their jobs, and their communities. They take an interest because interested people are interesting and therefore, highly charismatic.
They Communicate A Compelling Vision
Anyone can tell you what they are against. It’s easy and requires no skill. Communicating a compelling vision is different. It’s a skill that effective politicians develop early. They learn to talk about what they’re working for and what they hope to accomplish. They sell their vision rather than just tearing others down.
Being engaging in the front of the room isn’t a skill anyone is born with. It takes practice. John F. Kennedy, one of the most articulate politicians in history was famously bad on the stump when he first ran for congress in 1946. He learned to communicate by talking the working families of his first congressional district about what he was hoping to do for them. His father could buy him votes, but he could not buy a vision. That he had to develop on his own. That’s what made him so charismatic.
Politicians are good at getting people to like them. They make a great first impression and read a room. They dress to fit in, are interested in their audience and communicate a compelling vision. In short, they’re charismatic and their secrets are worth stealing to be more effective in the private sector. It might even make us more popular than dog poop and syphilis.