27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
not just for sparkly-toothed sales people,
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This review is from: The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism (Hardcover)
Simply put, this book is a good read and an extremely useful toolbox. For anyone.
The first chapters deconstruct charisma from something mystical and genetic into a few basic behaviors that we can do something about. It's an idea both liberating and reassuring, and piqued my curiosity to read the rest (the framework for the book is in the first few chapters which you can read for free on Amazon).
What makes this book useful is the fact that you can act on it. Quickly. Every chapter has suggestions for actions you can take to improve how you present yourself to people. And these suggestions are not about reaching some nebulous goal of "improving charisma", they are about making better first impressions, giving better presentations, dealing with difficult people... scenarios that we all encounter regularly and all of us know we could handle better.
This is not just the province of sparkly-toothed sales people. I run a nonprofit, for example. I have to deal with donors and fundraising, I have presentations to give, and I have a team to manage. Every one of those activities --- whether I like it or not -- depends on how people perceive me. I think about the times I've given incredibly thorough pitches to foundations, or proposed a new budget to my team, only to have it fall flat because of the way I presented the content and myself.
Here's one tiny example of something I found useful. One of the chapters made me realize that I nod often in conversation. I suppose I do it to indicate that I'm listening. According to the book, nodding in agreement with people demonstrates empathy but lowers your projection of power and status. When you stop to think about it for a minute (imagine someone who nods a lot in conversation), it's absolutely true. I'm trying to do it less. Small tips like that, or pausing two seconds before you answer questions, are simple things that can make a difference in the outcome of critical interactions. Do I want that donor thinking I'm a nice guy, or someone who can accomplish great things with her money?
This book presents a wide range of tools, from simple physical behaviors (like nodding, speaking, and handshakes); to more complicated communication like structuring feedback to people in difficult situations and making a better impression over the phone; to more subtle actions to improve your mental state going into important situations. All of these tools are actionable and summarized helpfully at the end of the chapter.
Criticisms? As with all of these kinds of books that deal with behavioral psychology and influence -- like Robert Cialdini's Influence -- there is a dollop or two of pop psychology that feels overly simplified. One or two of the examples are well-trodden and you may recognize them from other books. The author doesn't have time to go into the issue of how these observations translate across cultures -- and I imagine the rules would be different if you were in a business meeting in Japan. Lastly, the sheer breadth of topics and examples sometimes makes it feel like a grab bag. However, it's a useful kind of grab bag: more like a swiss army knife than an overstuffed purse.
Overall, the thesis of the book is great, and the content was engaging and actionable. I would recommend it to my dad to improve the results he gets with his church vestry, an MBA looking to help navigate her way up the corporate ladder, a buddy going on his first date after a divorce, or a teacher preparing for her PTA meetings.