If you thought for just a second I’m sure you can picture a person you know that seems to be liked by everyone. The person who is invited to every party. The person who always gets the bartender’s attention. The person who seems to always get what they want from other people. What’s their secret? Why are they so charming?
A story that I love to tell in my training on Executive Presence is the story of a gentleman that I worked for in my first job right out of college. Jerry was one of the most conservative people I have ever met and he hated President Bill Clinton with a passion reserved for the devil himself. In fact, Jerry wanted Bill Clinton impeached before he ever took office. With this much disdain for someone you might imagine how uncomfortable it was when Jerry, the president of a trade association, had to introduce the former President when he gave the keynote address at the annual convention. He didn’t have to just introduce him, but host him at the cocktail party before the main event!
For an entire month before the convention, I needled Jerry about what he was going to do. I teased him almost daily and had a lot of fun at his expense. In fact, it was a wonder that I kept my job.
The Monday after the convention, I couldn’t wait to get to work to tease Jerry some more. I bounced into his office and with great enthusiasm asked “How was your meeting with Bill Clinton?”
Jerry looked at me like he had just had some sort of religious experience and said “Randy, it was amazing. In a room full of people, he made me feel like I was the only one there. I’d still never vote for him, but I can see why so many people did.”
At first glance, you could chalk this up to the power of being charming, but the secret behind the charm was the feeling that Bill Clinton left Jerry with. The feeling that he was the only person in the room.
That’s why the key to being charming is to be present.
The key to being the person that others want to be around is to give the person that you’re talking to all of your attention. It seems so obvious that it’s easy to miss, but watch the people you talk to during any given day. How many are looking at their phone while talking to you? How many are looking past you for their next victim? How many are just waiting for their turn to speak?
The greatest advice I’ve heard on the subject of charm came from a bad movie. In the movie Loser, Dan Akroid plays the father to Jason Biggs and tells him as Biggs character leaves for college, “Remember son, interested is interesting.”
If you want to be interesting to others, being interested in them will go a long way but you cannot be interested if you’re not present when talking to them. That’s why being present is the key to being charming because giving someone all of your attention is so rare these days that it instantly separates you from the pack.
Practice the art of being present in your conversations with others. Don’t let your mind wander and keep your focus on the person that you’re with and pretty soon others will be thinking of you when someone asks about that person that everyone seems to like.