Charisma: What's Your Charisma?

Has it already been two weeks since the last Fireside session? It must be, because Dwelling’s Philosophy Session on Charisma this week has already ended! Before we draw a collective breath of astonishment at how time has passed by so quickly, let’s do a quick recap for those of you who missed the session but wish you’d been there.

What is charisma to you? This is the question posed at the beginning of the session to our guests. Through facilitated discussion in small groups, the audience shared that charisma is (among other things): attraction, magnetism, and the ability to influence. At one point it was so difficult to pin down that elusive sense of charisma, that members of the audience resorted to throwing out names synonymous with charisma such as Richard Gere and Johnny Depp! (Who would you name?)

In response, Julia helped us to wrap our heads around this elusive quality, by sharing a list of different charismatic styles embodied by more well-known personalities. Perhaps your style of charisma is one (or a combination) of these!

Seductive: Scarlett Johansson and Brad Pitt
Charmer: Bill Clinton
Tough Cookie: Hillary Clinton
Courageous and Inspiring: Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela
Compassionate: Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa
Spunky: Ellen DeGeneres
Cute: Drew Barrymore
Cool: Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
Good Girl: Meg Ryan
Intellectual: Steve Job, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg
Intense: Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr
Powerful: Donald Trump
Direct: Simon Cowell

After getting a glimpse of these charismatic types, we went into a second facilitated discussion, this time asking, what are the qualities that make a person charismatic?

Julia revealed that the building blocks of charisma lay in one’s awareness and mastery over one’s different 'bodies' (or aspects of oneself). We focused on the fundamental three bodies—the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of a person. Each aspect requires a significant amount of work to develop, and a person highly developed in all three certainly must have an edge in attraction!

You can probably guess what happened next. Since it was proving so difficult to talk about charisma, we launched into an activity instead. Volunteers from the audience took turns to come up and share an interesting experience they had for two minutes, after which they received feedback on how attractive they were physically, emotionally or intellectually to the audience present. Three brave souls gamely stepped up to the challenge: kudos to Ros, James and Yuchen for your courage! Ros scored the highest among the three people for emotional attractiveness as she shared about her volunteer work in an old folks home; James scored the highest among three for intellectual attractiveness as he shared about the damage ocean mining is causing to the environment; and Yu Chen scored the highest in physical attractiveness.

Subsequently, we gave everyone an opportunity to put their charisma to the test, as the exercise was done in the facilitation groups. Each person took turns to share for two minutes and members in their facilitation circle voted whether he/she was most attractive physically, emotionally or mentally, and gave constructive feedback on what they could work on to enhance their charisma.

Finally, the session ended with everyone getting a sense of what makes them an attractive being, and going away armed with practical feedback on how they could continue to work on developing their charisma. We'd like to encourage you to apply what you have learnt into your lives, and come back to share your personal experiences (or more questions) at our next Fireside on Tuesday 1 July, 7.30-9.30pm at TCC PoMo. See you there!