Right now, think of someone who is extremely likable, who draws you in to conversation and can walk into a room and command peoples’ attention. This person is charming. You walk away and think, “I like that person.”

The question is, are you born that way? Do you have charm or not? Or is it a characteristic you can learn?

The science of charm says it is a learnable skill. People who are interesting and fun to be with do certain things that add to their charm. If you pay attention to the actions of a charmer, you might notice a few things.

Your biggest asset is your smile. Researchers tell us that people who smile and give a happy face are more trustworthy, warmer, social and we are drawn to them. Psychologist and retired FBI agent, Jack Shafer, wrote a book called The Like Switch. He gives this tip-flash your eyebrows, tilt your head and smile. Mirror the nonverbal of the person you are with–if they cross their hands, do it too.  These nonverbal cues help invite people to engage with you in a positive way.

Then act genuinely interested in the person by asking open-ended questions. Remember their name but don’t name drop. People who try to impress by acting important do the opposite.

Recalling details about a person is also a strong way to impress. How many times have you been taken aback when a boss or someone you barely know remembers a personal detail about you? This signals, “Hey, they were paying attention when I met them.”

And becoming a good conversationalist by learning to listen well, express empathy, use humor, and find common ground–points of connection and agreement-will take you far in the charm category.

Charming people also treat everyone with respect. They serve and show kindness. In the end, we walk away from a charming person and feel better having been with them. It’s true that charm can be used to manipulate people, but it can also be a genuine way to connect and engage with people. And being likable is a trait that will benefit you in life.

The science of charm

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