PR MATTERS: Is good public relations good charisma?

Dear PR Matters,
I work in corporate public relations (PR), and have noticed that the most successful PR practitioners are those who are charismatic and have a great personality.  How important is charisma in charting one’s career in PR? How can one develop this?
Thank you so much,
Catherine C.

column-Millie Dizon-PR MattersDEAR Catherine,

We are happy you have made this observation because, in these technology-driven times, developing one’s personality is often considered less important than having numerous followers or “Likes.”

But having lots of followers and “Likes” is only a tool in the whole PR mix, and being a true influencer means building and maintaining long-term relationships with the media and the public.

But what does it take to be naturally charismatic? Columnist Jeff Haden describes remarkably charismatic people as those who “instantly make us feel important…make us feel special…light up a room by just walking by.”

They are people who “build and maintain great relationships, consistently influence [in a good way] the people around them, and who make people feel better about themselves. They’re the kind of people everyone wants to be around…and wants to be.”

How does one become charismatic? It’s about what we do, Haden says, and he lists the 10 habits of remarkably charismatic people:

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]1[/dropcap]  They listen more than they talk.What does it take to show the other person that he or she is important? “Ask questions, maintain eye contact,“ Haden says. “Then when you do speak, don’t offer advice unless you’re asked.”

“Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because when you offer advice, in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them,” he adds. “Only speak when you have something important to say—and always define important as what matters to the other person, not you.”

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]2[/dropcap] They don’t practice selective hearing.Haden has observed that “some people are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them.”

Rather than talking down, “re markably charismatic people listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or “level,” feel we have something in common with them.”

Because we all do: We’re all people.

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]3[/dropcap] They put all their stuff away. This is a cautionary tale for tech addicts. “Don’t check your phone. Don’t glance at your monitor,” Haden says. “Don’t focus on anything else, even for a moment.”

“You can never connect with others if you’re busy connecting with your stuff, too,” he adds.

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]4[/dropcap] They give before they receive…and they often never receive. In this world of me, me, me, it’s the selfless who really stand out. “Never think about what you can get,” Haden says. “Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.”

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]5[/dropcap] They don’t act self-important…Reality bites with Haden’s observations. “The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people,” he says. “The rest of us aren’t impressed. We’re irritated, put off and uncomfortable. And we hate when you walk in the room.”

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]6[/dropcap] …because they realize other people are more important. Of course, we know what we know—our opinions, perspectives and points of view. “That stuff isn’t important because it’s already yours. You can’t learn anything about yourself,” Haden says. But “other people know…things you don’t know. That makes them a lot more important than you, because they’re people you can learn from.

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]7[/dropcap] They focus the spotlight on others.When you let others shine, Haden says, people will not only appreciate your praise, but also “the fact that you care enough to pay attention to what they’re doing. Then they’ll feel a lot more accomplished and important.”

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]8[/dropcap]  They choose their words. “The words you use impact the attitude of others,” Haden says. “We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic and fulfilled people.  The words you use can help others feel better about themselves—and make you feel better about yourself, too.

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]9[/dropcap]  They don’t discuss the failing of others… We all like hearing a little gossip, but Haden believes that “we definitely don’t respect the people who dish that dirt.”

“Don’t laugh at people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them.”

[dropcap style=”circle” bgcolor=”#dd3333″]10 [/dropcap]…but they readily admit their failings. Haden shares with us a simple truth: “You have to be incredibly genuine to be remarkably charismatic.”

“Be humble. Share your screw-ups. Admit your mistakes. Be the cautionary tale. And laugh at yourself,” he says.

“While you should never laugh at people, you should always laugh at yourself. People won’t laugh at you. People will laugh with you. They’ll like you better for it—and they’ll want to be around you a lot more.”

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