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The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane was a really good book, I liked it. It concentrates on how you can use charisma to your advantage in both your career and personal life. Cabane argues those who exhibit charisma on a regular basis go farther in life, are more successful, and get ahead easier. There are a number of areas covered in this book such as warmth, power, focus, handshakes, body language, etc. At the end of each chapter, Cabane gives us a brief synapsis of what she covered citing “key takeaways” and summarizing key points. The best points made in this book, like other books seem to be common sense such as using body language to your advantage (mirroring others), having a firm handshake, treating others the way you would like to be treated if you were in their situation, how to take compliments effectively, etc.

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Warmth, Power, and Presence

Warmth, power, and presence are spoken about near the beginning of the book. It talks about how these traits should be used together in order to be the best possible leader. It makes a lot of sense too, you can not use one of these traits alone. For example, if you just use power you will come across as bossy and controlling. Using warmth alone and you may be liked but also seen as weak. If you just use presence, you may just come across as a face in the crowd. However, if you use them all together you will be able to move mountains and the charisma you radiate amongst your colleagues will be electrifying.

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Body Language, Mirroring, and Listening

What’s one of the first things you pick up about others? I notice body language first and foremost – it’s easy to see if people are frustrated, confused, happy, confident, etc. If you want to portray yourself as a charismatic individual, you need to exude positivity and confidence. The most charismatic leaders do this, look at Steve Jobs at a MacWorld conference and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. When interacting with others mirroring can be very important. If you use mirroring effectively with body language you can gain trust, affection, and appreciation. Doing simple things like pausing for a second or two before you speak can make a big difference. Additionally, other things like eye contact, enthusiasm, and smiling can go far when mirroring.

Listening is one of the most important traits to have. People love to talk about themselves and have an audience whether it be of one or many. I have sat through job interviews which were more like friendly meetings where I got to listen to the other person do most of the talking. You know what, I ended up getting the job too. Being a great listener will serve you well throughout life and your career.

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I’m going to devote a paragraph to this section because I feel it’s very important. If you want to display true charisma it’s essential to have an excellent handshake. Cabane shows us here the exact steps we should and should not take when shaking hands. Here are some of the types of bad handshakes:

  • The Dead Fish
  • The Knuckle Cruncher
  • The Pumper
  • The Finger Squeeze
  • The Sanitary Shake
  • The Two-Handed Shake

These are all bad handshakes, and just by the name they are pretty explanatory. A perfect handshake is really easy, we’ve all given one before. If you’re unsure

on how to give a perfect handshake, please watch the video I linked to earlier in this review. I highly recommend this book, it was very good!

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