[Fireside] Cultivating Charisma @ POMO TCC

Questions, questions, questions! Once again, the colorful paper with your questions found their way into our Question Bucket.

On 3 June, Dwellers united again for our regular Fireside session at The Coffee Connoisseur at PoMo! This time, the topic attracted an intrigued bunch of Dwellers who were curious to find out what exactly charisma had to do with them. This session followed from our Dwelling Speaker Night two weeks earlier, in which guest speaker, the talented Michelle Tham, shared about her inadvertent journey towards charisma as she took up leadership roles in her speech therapy work. 

Once again our bucket of questions made its customary appearance, and the group soon split into our regular smaller circles for closer discussion. Among the questions fielded were many that can be summed up into a fundamental question: What exactly is it about someone that attracts and inspires people? At different points, both groups concluded that why we do what we do has the greatest drawing power; some called it vision, while others called it presence. 

In one group, Teng Teng questioned the distinction between charm and charisma. The group came to the consensus that charm was something that you can turn on consciously in a deliberate attempt to attract someone, whereas charisma was deeper and more enduring, and was an attraction factor that arose from who a person was as a totality. Wei Ping suggested that extended charm is charisma. Teng Teng also raised doubts about the end-point of charisma: is charisma still a good thing for a leader to have, if a leader uses it for malignant purposes? This sparked off a debate about the means charisma is put to, which spiraled off in different directions. Eventually, it was agreed that not all charismatic people are leaders, but all leaders need to have charisma, as only then will others wish to follow them. There were no easy answers for the question on morality, so perhaps that is a bucket of worms to be uncovered in next season’s theme, Leadership.

Later, as the group warmed up, the session took a more personal slant, and we went around the group to get a sense of what attracted others to us. In other words, “what’s my charisma?” (which is also the topic handled in the upcoming philosophy session on 17 June). This yielded many personal insights, as guests came to realize how they were viewed in others eyes. What was interesting was that the qualities that some thought made them attractive were in fact not the qualities that drew people to them. So this segment left everyone in an unintentional state of appreciation of self and others, which certainly must be an attractive quality!

At the other end of the table, another group also inquired into what charisma is and is not, and how a person can become charismatic. We agreed that charismatic people shared certain common qualities: values, freedom, confidence, a stand for something, presence, and social graces. One person talked about how difficult it is to find and express ourselves amid societal views, and another noticed a societal preference for extraversion which raised a question about whether introverts can be charismatic. Someone else asked if easy-going people can be charismatic, to which Julia proposed that being easy-going is often a sign of resignation or ambivalence—not to be mistaken for neutrality because no one is free of bias; often it is the fear of judgment so you do not express your opinion. 

Towards the later part of the evening, Julia also talked about the building blocks of charisma. Subsequently, the conversation turned towards the difference between those who attract versus those who are attracted—those who give energy and those who take energy. The group asked themselves, which ones were we? This opened up another conversation about what each individual in the group needed to work on for themselves, on the path to uncovering their own charisma.

As usual, Dwellers were hard-pressed to leave, and many stayed long past the session to continue hanging out. That’s what happens when you have friends. At this point we would like to thank all our guests and readers (yes, that’s you), for sticking with us through this series. The Charisma Sessions are soon coming to an end, so join us on 17 June for the grand finale, our Philosophy Session on “What’s your Charisma?” led by our very own Julia Ng. Contact Hellen at 9619 2948 for more details.

See you there!