Recruitment Guidance: Using Charisma to Influence Others

Recruiters who possess a high degree of self-confidence and charisma tend to dominate their market and out perform their competitors. They negotiate higher fees, gain access to elite clients, and land highly sought after retainers. Much of their marketing is done for them; new clients seek them out because their reputation precedes them. Their recruiting software is bursting at the seems with clients and candidates looking for quality placements.

Charisma gets people to like you, trust you, and want to be led by you. It can determine whether you’re seen as a follower or leader, whether your ideas get adopted, and how effectively your projects are implemented. It makes people want to help you achieve your goals.

But what if you don’t consider yourself naturally charismatic? What if it seems like a magical quality that only a lucky few are born with?

The good news is that over the last decade charisma has been extensively studied by cognitive and behavioral scientists at MIT and other Universities and is now considered a teachable skill set. Research has shown that charisma is the result of specific verbal and non-verbal behaviors—not an inherent or magical personal quality.

This means that anyone can learn to become more charismatic by applying a set of proven strategies.

People think charisma is innate because, like many things, charismatic behaviors are learned early in life. Some children try out new behaviors, get results that reinforces that behavior, and the behaviors become instinctive for them.

Some people decide to learn charisma; Steve Jobs is an example. If you watch his speeches from 1984, you will see an awkward, geeky guy who looks uncomfortable on stage. You can watch a speech of his from 1996 and see a ton of progression. Not everyone can become a JFK or a Steve Jobs but anyone can make big strides towards being more charismatic.

Recruitment guidance: the ingredients of charisma

Social psychologists tell us that charisma is made up of three primary qualities:

  • Presence
  • Power
  • Warmth

Of those three qualities, presence is the most important for exuding charisma.

When people met Bill Clinton, the Dali Lama or JFK, they often mentioned that they had an amazing presence. Those leaders tend to make people feel like they’re the most important person in the room. They do this simply by being fully present with others, not distracted with their own inner dialogue but fully engaged with the person they are talking to at the moment.

Have you ever realized in the middle of a conversation that only half your mind was present and that the other half was somewhere else?

The art of being “present”

Perhaps you were talking with a new client and while they were talking you were trying to think of the next thing you were going to say. Or maybe you were talking with a candidate and were doing a Google search at the same time. Or maybe you were lost in a thought such as, “Ah I can’t believe I just said that, they probably think I’m an idiot.”

If you weren’t fully present while the other person was talking do you think that they noticed? Chances are very high they did.

When you’re not fully present during a conversation with a client or candidate, there’s a good chance that your vocal response or inflection will be a split second delayed. Studies show that people can read facial expressions and voice fluctuation in as little as 17 milliseconds. This means that even the smallest delays in your response will register with the other person on a gut level. They will get the idea that something’s not quite right, something doesn’t fit.

This tiny delay in your response is called “incongruence,” and can even give people the feeling that you are being inauthentic. Nothing ruins trust or charisma faster than appearing inauthentic.

We think we can fake presence; we think we can fake listening and that as long as we seem attentive that we can let our minds focus on other things, but we’re wrong.

When we’re not fully present in an interaction, the other person will likely notice and it will create a bad impression. The bottom line is this: We can’t fake being present.

Stand out by being there

I’m often asked by owners and recruiters, “What can I do to stand out from all the other recruiters who do the same thing that I do?”

The unexpected answer might be to simply give your clients and candidates the unique gift of your full presence; to really listen while your client is talking. You’ll stand out if you speak more slowly, take full breaths and pause before responding.

This will make you stand out because so few people ever communicate in this way.

Ninety percent of your competitors sound rushed and breathy on their marketing calls. They are preoccupied by what they’re going to say next, or are silently judging themselves for what they just said. You have the opportunity to really stand out by just being fully present with your clients. This presence will cause people to find you naturally charismatic.

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Gary Stauble, a guest writer for the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog, is the principal consultant for The Recruiting Lab, a coaching company that assists firm owners and solo recruiters in generating more profit in less time.  For more information or to schedule a complimentary coaching session, visit www.therecruitinglab.com or call 408.849.4756.