Mark Ford

From Mark Ford, editor, Creating Wealth: I like to think of myself as an amiable guy, but I wouldn’t claim to be charismatic.

Charismatic is an adjective I’d apply to someone like Jay Leno or Tony Robbins.

Bill Clinton is supposed to be very charismatic. I know die-hard conservatives who changed their views about him after speaking with him for just five minutes.

Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of effect on people? Wouldn’t it feel good to know you have the ability to make everyone you meet like you and want to work with you?

A few years ago, such a man came into my office.

He took over managing my bond account after my longtime account manager retired. I didn’t want to like this young upstart because I resented it when my old account manager left. I felt (irrationally) abandoned.

But within five minutes, we were talking about cigars and martial arts. By the time he left a half-hour later (we were scheduled to meet for only 15 minutes), I’d promised him more of my business. I’d also given him a copy of my latest book… and a $20 cigar!

He should’ve given me a cigar. But that’s the power of charisma.

Many salespeople are charismatic. You meet them. You like them. You buy from them… even when they don’t have the best product or the best pricing.

Charismatic people seem to be born that way. They have an uncanny natural ability to sell almost anything, including their ideas. They don’t follow the usual rules. They smile a lot. They chat a lot.

Do they have skills the rest of us—the nongifted lot—can learn?


Here are 15 ways you can become more charismatic and get more out of all your business relationships.

Most of them are based on principles identified by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

  1. People tend to do business with people they like. So, behave in a way that makes you likable. Dale Carnegie noted people like to talk about themselves. Whenever possible, direct the conversation away from yourself and toward the person whom you want to endear.
  2. People want to associate with people they respect and admire. It’s difficult to get respect when you act or speak rudely. Be polite and patient. Avoid being crude, rude, gruff, or impatient. And be kind to waiters.
  3. People feel comfortable doing business with people who keep their word. That means when you make a promise, do exactly what you promised. Do it by the deadline you promised—or sooner.
  4. People trust people who are open and honest, especially about their own shortcomings. Resist the urge to be more than you are. Speak confidently about what you know. Be prompt in saying, “I don’t know,” when you don’t.
  5. People buy from—and invest money in—people who have their best interests at heart. Don’t try to make everyone your customer or client. When you can’t help someone, say so. When you can, explain how—in terms of their benefits, not yours.
  6. People want to take advice from experts, not amateurs or pretenders. You can’t be an expert in everything. Narrow your profession down to what you know. As your expertise grows, you can grow your field of business. But don’t pretend to be able to do something well.
  7. People feel comfortable entrusting their money to people who are honest, ethical, and aboveboard. So, don’t lie about your products and/or services… and especially not about your fees and commissions.
  8. People can be bullied, but they’ll resent it—even if they’re bullied into doing something good for them. Use persuasion, not power, to get people to do what’s best for themselves.
  9. People are drawn to people who are physically attractive (or not physically repulsive, at least). So, eat right. Exercise. Stay fit. Dress well. Be well-groomed. And pay attention to your personal hygiene.
  10. People feel better with people who seem to be “real.” The best way to show you’re a regular person is to be cordial, friendly, and avoid pretensions of every sort. Don’t pretend to be interested in baseball if you’re not. Don’t talk about Broadway and ballet when the other person is a baseball fan.
  11. People respond to people who listen and pay attention to what they’re saying. Remember the old cliché: You have two ears and one mouth because you should listen twice as much as you talk.
  12. People feel comfortable with people who are like them in some ways. You don’t have to be much like them, just a little. The trick here is to identify one thing you have in common with the other person. It could be golf, kids, pets, or anything else. Then, use that as an anchor to create a connection between you.
  13. People are attracted to accomplished people… and even more so when accomplished people are humble. When you talk about your accomplishments, do so in a way that lets others know you don’t think you’re all that special. You should do that for another reason, too: You’re not.
  14. People are impressed by people who are productive. That’s why you should never attempt to get business by telling a prospective customer things are slow and you need the work.
  15. People can be fooled sometimes, but not every time. And not forever. Therefore, in practicing the skills listed above, practice them sincerely.

Which of these people-pleasing skills do you already have? Congratulate yourself for acquiring them. Then, continue to practice them.

Which ones do you still need to develop? You can’t do it overnight, but you can—and should—work on them over time.