Social Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Charisma - innate personality trait or acquired skill?

Asked by mattbrowne (31666points) July 8th, 2011

Charisma is often defined as a personal quality attributed to people who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm. Charisma is sometimes seen as a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he or she is set apart from ordinary people. Charismatic business leaders are able to galvanise support from peers, employees, and customers, often when it is most required.

Why are some people more charismatic than others?


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19 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

It’s actually a lack of fear.

When you no longer truly fear what others think of you, well, the sheep kinda get in line don’t they?

mattbrowne's avatar

Aren’t there plenty of famous charismatic people with all sorts of phobias?

Mikewlf337's avatar

Charisma is part of ones personality. Either you have it or you don’t. It is not always a good as well. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin had alot of charisma. To me it is one of those things that cant be learned. It has to do with the way you talk, the way you look, the sound of your voice, etc.

Blondesjon's avatar

@mattbrowne . . . Sure, but those phobias don’t include the fear of others’ opinions.

Hell, most charismatic people sell fear in one way or another.

marinelife's avatar

It is totally an innate skill. You can improve your social skills by improving listening skills and your outer appearance, but you cannot create the inner spark that is charisma.

Cruiser's avatar

I believe it is both passed down from a parent(s) who is charismatic themselves, and on a lesser level, behavior learned through leadership roles throughout their lives.

thorninmud's avatar

I associate charisma with an aura of vision and confidence. People who are confused and uncertain are often drawn to people who seem to know the way forward and project a high degree of confidence in that vision. Vigor and enthusiasm are an important part of that package.

People want to feel inspired. They want to believe in a cause. They want to feel that life can be understood and mastered. Anyone who appears to have accomplished that and holds out the promise of taking others along for the ride is likely to draw people into their orbit.

As to whether this is innate or acquired, it’s probably a measure of both, though I see more as being innate personality features. I think the buoyant enthusiasm and energetic vigor are more innate. Certainly, anyone can acquire some kind of vision for how to proceed, but what one does with that vision will be influenced by personality. Some will remain tentative and retrospective and proceed with caution, always open to new alternatives. Others will grab that vision and run with it, never doubting it or looking back. The tentative person may very well be the wisest, but is unlikely to pull people along in his wake.

MilkyWay's avatar

I believe it is to do with one’s personality.

intrepidium's avatar

This probably isn’t what you’re looking for but Philip Rieff wrote a pretty dense book [Charisma: The Gift of Grace & How It Has Been Taken Away From Us] where he talks about how the original meaning/concept of charisma with its notion of Divinely bestowed moral authority has become corrupted or “bastardized” over time to little more than a form of personal celebrity.

I must say I have doubts about associating charisma with confidence or energy – Princess Diana had charisma and so did Marilyn Monroe but both apparently were ridden by self-doubt (?). Seems to me that charisma is [at least in my mind, or maybe also commonly in our world today[ more closely linked to a quality that compels attention, whether through glamor, attractiveness or the opposite e.g. someone fearful, who emanates a sense of threat or violence, and surely there are less-than-conventionally-attractive people who can be said to have charisma?

As to whether its innate or acquired, I also believe it’s probably a bit of both, and certainly something that one can cultivate. There are image consultancies that regularly ‘train’ CEOs and public speakers etc. for public appearances.

ucme's avatar

It’s when Santa Claus comes isn’t it?
Oh dear, dyslexia strikes again :¬(

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I also wonder to what extent genetics has a hand. My biological father was a mystery to me until in my later teens when we first met and I then met my paternal extended family. Over the years since I am told I am so much like my father from his surviving siblings and even my half-siblings who all grew up with him.

downtide's avatar

I think it’s innate.

marinelife's avatar

@Trojans40 Care to elaborate on how one acquires the skill of charisma?

Trojans40's avatar

It take skill to put your charisma to another language that you learn. We don’t pass down languages, we learn them. We can’t just blurt things out either. You would need to learn the culture that allow you to say what and how, and as well the timing. That take practice and knowledge.

cockswain's avatar

I’d say either. There were kids in grade school that were already leaders. Some leaders don’t figure it out until after high school. I think @Blondesjon is on the right path with describing it as a fearless attitude. People are drawn to the person that is confident in him/herself.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I don’t think it’s charisma, exactly, not in the original sense, as @intrepidium has pointed out. It just that there’s some people who know how to connect with others in a seemingly intimate manner in non-intimate circumstances, and I think a lot of it can be taught.

Years ago, I met Bill Clinton at the Rathskellar at the student union of my uni.

Previously, with my pals, I’d gone to see the hullabaloo at a rally where he and Gore were stumping (this was the first time, in 1992). He spots me at the Rathskellar later on, sticks out his hand and says “Hey, I saw you at the rally, didn’t I? Hey! How’s it going? What’s your name?”

Now, granted, I am a small person, so I try to get up front for most things, and the chances that he saw me were pretty good, sure, but people with this skill make it seem like they really, really want to get to know you, and that’s what draws in people, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t feel more positively toward someone who seems to really want to get to know them?

Schroedes13's avatar

I think that charisma, the quality which for some reason makes you more attractive (not romantically) to others. However, there may be tons of charismatic people who never develop the other skills needed for a complete charismatic presence. These would be speaking skills, like oration, body language, or the use of engaging phrases. Also intra-personal skills, like making eye contact, actively engaging others in conversation, or making another feel comfortable around you.

I am truly fortunate in being a person I believe to have inherited a charismatic quality and have attained many of the soft skills of a charismatic person. I’ve been told since I was very young that I was natural born leader and that people always liked being around me and found themselves following the things I said.

talljasperman's avatar

Both…Charisma innate personality trait and acquired skill… or maybe it doesn’t exist. I would like to know more about abilities, that are not limited to a couple of leadership CD’s and fantasy games

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