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How to Be Charming

By: Brian Kim - August 15, 2006

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We can’t articulate it, but we know a charming person when we see one. It’s that person at the party who seems to know everybody. He works the crowd with such ease and has a positive aura about him, and everybody just seems drawn to him like steel to a magnet. He leaves people thinking “What a great guy!” and seems to have it all together.

I would be a fool if I wrote an article on how to be charming if I wasn’t charming to begin with. I don’t mean to say I’m the most charming man on the face of the earth, but I do have my moments. I’ve reflected back on those moments, studied other charismatic people, read books on the subject, and asked other charismatic people to share their insights on this elusive trait. You know what I learned? Charisma is not genetic. It can be learned. On to the 8 tips.

1. Get your own life in order first.

When everything is going right in your life, the world is your oyster. You’re in the zone, you’re on top of the world, you feel invincible, like everything has fallen into place just for you. You don’t have a single worry in the world and you feel like singing and dancing in the rain. With this kind of mental state, it’s a double edged sword. It can lead you to become the most charismatic person in the world, or the most obnoxious and boastful person in the world (more on how to not be the latter later on in this article).

You cannot fake charisma if you have problems going on in your life, whether it’s trouble paying the bills, family issues, relationship problems, etc. That stuff will weigh you down.

Get your life in order. Pay the bills, save some money in the bank, forgive other people, don’t hold grudges, be courteous to all, resolve any issues you have with people, have a passion in life, have a dream you’re working on, eat right, exercise, etc. You will find that getting your act together will make it extremely easy for you to be charismatic, because then you can do the other half of what charismatic people do, and that is focus on the other person.

2. Exercise

Exercise before attending any event or gathering (and please shower afterwards :)). It’ll give you the energy you need to emanate your glowing charm throughout the room. It’ll get you in the right mindset of a being a happy positive person because of the endorphins circulating in your body. It’ll give you that confidence to start socializing. You’ll be on your game. Everything will flow just right because you feel like a million bucks.

3. Wear the clothes

You know what clothes I’m talking about. Everybody’s got an outfit that makes them feel like a million bucks. We all know that clothes make you feel good. If you feel good, it’ll be really easy to make others feel good. And the less worried you are about your appearance, the more you can focus on the other person. The more content you are with yourself (aka self confident), the more easier it will be to turn on the charm.

4. Pre-socialize

I don’t know why it is, but if I have socialized prior to attending a gathering or event, I find it way easier to turn on the charm. What I mean by pre-socializing is just striking up conversations with any person you meet on the way to the event; the store clerk, the people on the elevator, the security guard, etc. Just some light conversation. Nothing heavy. How are you? Busy day today eh? I like your jacket. Do you mind me asking where you got it? I think pre-socializing gets you into the groove of easily being able to talk to any person, one of the key skills in becoming charming.
When you get to the event:

5. Pretend you’re the host and talk to EVERYBODY

This is a very cool paradigm to try out. Instead of standing in the corner, sipping your drink and hoping somebody will come talk to you, take the initiative and start talking with EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE. You can do this if you pretend to be the host of the event. Start by looking out for people who are trying to act cool, but are desperately wishing that someone would go talk to them. You know exactly who they are. Rescue them from their worries and you’ll see their face light up and thank you for approaching them. Work the crowd, ask how everyone’s doing. They will all light up and respond favorably. Get to know people and introduce people to other people. Most people don’t have the guts to approach strangers, so when you do it for them, they’ll be extremely grateful.

Don’t discriminate based on social groups. People are all the same. Talk to the skater, the artist, the economist, the stock broker, the lawyer, the doctor, the entrepreneur, the bartender, the guy standing in the corner, the waiter, everybody. Talk to everyone and make them feel welcome. You just need to get the ball rolling. Once you start talking to one stranger and get in the rhythm, you’ll be an unstoppable social butterfly.

6. You, not I.

Charming people focus on the other person. Rarely are they themselves the topic of discussion. When you’re out there schmoozing, listen to people when they talk to you and give them feedback to indicate that you are listening and that you understand. Be genuinely interested in the other person. Ask all about them. Always think of how you can help them. Send business their way. Hook them up with other people at the party you think they might get along well with.

7. Make them feel good.

Give people genuine compliments. Everybody needs compliments like food and water because everybody’s self esteem can always use a little boost. Don’t go for the cliché compliments like everyone else. Remember, you’re the charismatic one. You’ve got to step it up a notch. Think of a genuine killer compliment.

Also, don’t forget to use the power of touch. A hormone called oxytocin is secreted when you touch someone and studies have shown that promotes bond and trust between people. Oxytocin is also a feel good hormone so when they get hit with it, they associate that good feeling with you as well. Obviously, use your better judgment here. Don’t go up and start molesting people. Be tactful with your touch. You will find that women are the masters of this. They will lightly tap your forearm when making a point or playfully hit your shoulder when engaged in conversation with you.

People tend to remember conversations with people who use the power of touch. I remember going to one event and being charmed off the socks with this one guy. He had it going. He was working the crowd, he saw me, introduced himself, and started to ask all sorts of questions about me. I, in turn, shamelessly succumbed to his charm and divulged a lot of information and we both had good laughs. You know why I remember him out of all the other people I interacted with that day? It’s because he squeezed my arm when he shook my hand. No joke. That’s how I remembered him. As the charming guy who squeezed my arm. Touch is a very powerful thing. Use it wisely.

8. Be positive.

Smile. Charming people are known for making people feel way better after interacting with them. They have a light feathery touch to them that brings smiles and good feelings to everybody they come in contact with.

Talk about positive things. Avoid negative things. You’ll always run into people who turn a good conversation into a bad one by bringing up some negativity. If that happens, try to tactfully point out the positive aspects of the situation. If that fails, excuse yourself from the group and move on. There's no need to be part of the down group.

Get your stuff together, exercise, put on those nice clothes, get in the habit of socializing with everyone, talk with everyone, really listen and keep the focus on them, make them feel good, only associate yourself with positive things and people, and you’ll find yourself being that one person who's always lighting up the room.

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66 Responses to “How to Be Charming”

  1. Gleb Reys Says:

    Hi Brian!

    Practice makes perfect! I’m telling you this because it’s clearly seen when someone speaks from the experience! :)

    I’m really interested in your posts, as strangely most of the points you’re making in your posts match my own lifestyle one way or another.

    Best of luck, keep up the good work!
    Gleb

  2. Brian Kim Says:

    Gleb,

    You’re spot on.

    What can I say, great minds think alike!

    Thanks for the encouragement and kind words.

    Brian

  3. anonymous Says:

    More examples of those genuine compliments, please.

  4. Miller Says:

    Why don’t you publish an RSS or Atom feed? Your blog has been interesting. I’d love to subscribe and keep updated, but you don’t have a feed.

  5. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Miller,

    Thank you for your comments. I actually do publish an RSS feed. If you scroll to the top of any article, you will find it on the right hand side. I think it’s because my articles are so long, people don’t realize it.

  6. Ivan Minic Says:

    Hi Brian, very nice text indeed :)

  7. Victor Says:

    Great tips. I might try a few at the next gathering.

  8. Brian Kim Says:

    Ivan,

    Appreciate the compliment. Thanks!

    Victor,

    Let me know how it goes!

  9. lollerkeet Says:

    “You cannot fake charisma”
    I disagree; I do it all the time. A classmate recently observed that I was a ‘pretty happy person’. It is far from the truth, but the exact image I try to project.
    As for the ‘be positive’ rule, generally true, but should be broken for effect. Like the ‘one insult per three compliments’ rule for dealing with pretty girls, an occaisonal jolt of cynicism in a generally sunny dialogue adds credibility and makes you more entertaining.
    Completely agree with the touching and clothes points.

  10. Brian Kim Says:

    Lollerkeet,

    I respect your viewpoint on this. If it works for you, don’t break it.

    While my post was not intended to speak with pretty girls, I know exactly what you’re talking about. The occasional light hearted insult can add to the spice of your personality.

  11. Yugflog.com » Blog Archive » Links and Commentary for August 16, 2006 Says:

    […] How to be charming. I like this article, although it’s easier said than done. Especially when you’re the kind of person whose hands sweat profusely and mouth dries up in public situations. Uh oh. She walking towards me. Uh oh, she’s smiling. Smile back, Chris. Half smile. Do I wink? Should I rub my hands on my shirt now so they’re dry? Oh thank God. She was just going to the bar. Deep breaths, Chris. […]

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  15. Miss Cellania Says:

    Good advice all around, especially #6.

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  18. Brian Kim Says:

    Thanks Miss Cellania. I appreciate it!

  19. MamaDuck Says:

    This is excellent advice, especially about warming up before the party by chatting up others. I’ll definitely try some of these out at the next party I attend.

  20. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi MamaDuck,

    Thanks for the kind words. Great site & great list!

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  22. Turn on the charm! at Screenplayer Says:

    […] What were you doing at your last networking party? Were you the one behind the corn plant, quietly sipping your iced tea and hoping to God nobody would notice you? Brian Kim’s article on how to be charming might just pull you out of your hole. Charming people focus on the other person. Rarely are they themselves the topic of discussion. When you’re out there schmoozing, listen to people when they talk to you and give them feedback to indicate that you are listening and that you understand. Be genuinely interested in the other person. Ask all about them. Always think of how you can help them. Send business their way. Hook them up with other people at the party you think they might get along well with. […]

  23. The Unknown Professor Says:

    Great piece! Charm is a lot like “Southern Hospitality” (having liveddown South for 10 years as a “damn Yankee”, I can say that they’re the masters of Charm). Some take to it naturally, but almost anyone can learn how to do it better. And it’s an extremely valuable skill.

  24. Brian Kim Says:

    Professor,

    I’ve never been down South but I’ve heard the stories and I don’t doubt it for a second. I agree, a very valuable skill indeed. Thanks for dropping by!

  25. Kelly Says:

    Wow. There are many great points here. A very informative article!

  26. What was the Problogger list project you ask? — Ask blushgirl - Romance Advice, Tips and Dating Site Reviews Archive Says:

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  27. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for the compliment. Appreciate it. Learned some new emoticons I never knew before so thanks for that as well!

  28. Titusville Toastmasters Podcast » How to be Charming in 8 Steps Says:

    […] Honestly guys, it’s all ‘common sense.’ But sometimes you need stuff like this spelled out for you before it really clicks in your mind. The 8 steps laid out here won’t turn you into the life of the party, but it’ll sure get you started in the right direction.read more | digg story […]

  29. curious Says:

    Do you know of any great books on improving ones charming skills that you can list?

  30. Brian Kim Says:

    Here’s a good book on it.

    The New Secrets of Charisma

  31. mokshore » Blog Archive » links for 2006-08-22 Says:

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  32. links for 2006-08-18 — davemessina.net Archive Says:

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  33. Jauhari Says:

    Great idea ;)

  34. Brian Kim Says:

    Thanks Jauhari!

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  36. Andrew Says:

    Brian,

    It was a very interesting article with very sound advice in it. However, my comment is not so much about the article as it is about you. I’ve noticed that for every compliment someone gives your writing, you take the time and the curtesy to write a personal thanks for each and every one of them. You also respect the opinion of those that disagree in a polite and affirming way. I believe you are a truely very charismatic man with fantastic easy to understand words of wisdom. I feel honored to have stumbled across this website today as your efforts in helping people to find ways to improve themselves is highly admirable and noble. Thankyou for providing this material for us, everything I have read on this site has been fascinating and enthralling to me.

  37. Brian Kim Says:

    Andrew,

    I really appreciate what you said. It means a lot. I’m glad I could be of service!

  38. Sky T. Says:

    I read all that you have said and I understand. Me too have be charming for a moment but now I am still having some difficulty trying to apply your 8 tips…. either because I worry too much or I am not used to changing too much of myself so soon…

  39. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Sky,

    No real change happens instantly. There’s a period of growth that we all must go through before we actually change, so don’t worry so much ;) It’s all part of the process.

  40. Sky T. Says:

    Brian, thanks for the advice. Since you reply, you must be trying to help others to become charismatic right..?

    I wonder 1 thing… Are you not “have(ing) a single worry in the world and you feel like singing and dancing in the rain”? That’s the first problem I have to overcome before I can become charismatic.. You have my E-mail right? Could you add me in instant messaging so that it is easier to communicate? Thanks in advance!

  41. Tommy Says:

    Can a female be “charming” or is this word really for a male? If not, what how would one characterize a woman who has similar characteristics?

  42. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Tommy,

    First off, thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

    With regard to your question, I think the word “charming” can apply to both male and feamle in the same sense. It’s really about making the other person feel good in your prescence and in my opinion, it can be done regardless of gender.

    Brian

  43. Thankful youngsta Says:

    Brian you are a true inspiration to me you changed my social life around, i went from quiet nobody in the corner!! to social buterfly i mean your tips made me well not that charmining but close to. your a life saver and just keep the advive coming and i was wonderin if you could help me with another problem..

    Theres this one girls attention im trying to get and i was hopping you could help
    please and thanks..

    Thankful youngster

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  45. Brian Kim Says:

    Thankful youngsta,

    Thank you very much for the kind words! I really appreciate it. It’s good to see that the article has helped.

    With regard to your girl dilemna, here’s something that will help, regardless of whether you’re a nice guy or not ;) - http://briankim.net/blog/2006/08/why-nice-guys-cant-get-girls/

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  50. aman Says:

    in this world we have termed “humans” as a set of creatures expected to behave in a particular way, isnt that crazy, that means everyone needs to be charming otherwise one is socially underrated, its a new type of competence and somehow i feel the need to learn it now, but the fact that one needs to learn it for me shows the end of the world.

  51. Brian Kim Says:

    aman,

    What can I say? You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion.

    To each his own I always say ;)

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  53. Melbyloohoo Says:

    I am 14 years old and I have suffered from a burn accident. I am afraid this will not help me make friends in school, outside of school, or anywhere… I am a very friendly person, I have hobbies, interests, and a lot of talents, and I’ve applied your suggested techniques. (And I know this is probably just my peers because I’m a teen) But no one wants anything to do with me due to my physical appearance which I think I have maxed out through exercising and taking care of myself…I know I’m kind of breaking the positive attitude rule, but living in a society where your physical appearance is the sum of your social worth when your personality counts for little to none, I’m afraid these skills have helped very little and when I try to apply the ones that have to do with being outgoing, I am openly rejected. Good advice none the less, I see how it would help the average person.

  54. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Melbyloohoo,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve suffered from a burn accident. I have to say thought that it’s refreshing to see that you don’t let that faze you in terms of interacting with other people.

    My advice would be to just keep doing what you’re doing. Other people are just probably hesitant because they don’t know how to react in this kind of situation. Just make them feel comfortable, do your thing, and in time, everything will become second nature for both parties.

  55. No Data Source » here we go again: body language + charm Says:

    […] A couple of interesting articles, one on smiles + body language and the other on how to be charming or how to charm… It’s funny, now that I think about it, to be charming, is almost always positive, endearing, and attractive, while to charm, is sometimes derogatory, snake-like… addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fnodatasource.com%2F2006%2F08%2F17%2Fhere-we-go-again-body-language-charm%2F’; addthis_title = ‘here+we+go+again%3A+body+language+%2B+charm’; addthis_pub = ‘’; […]

  56. The website of Joseph Becher » Delicious LiveJournal Links for 9-23-2006 Says:

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  57. dsdjskdsd Says:

    Melbyloohoo, I am sorry if you suffered from a burn accident. However, I have come to realize that you really dont have to be the best looking person to get people to like you at your age (I’m only two years older than you, so I can relate). People WILL judge you for your physical appearance, but you can turn that around by turning all your bad traits into jokes. Laugh at yourself before they can laugh at you. Become funny. That is what people at your age want. They don’t care if a person is down-to-earth and is always there to listen to you vent, always there to assist you, always there to be there for you. Teenagers are a bit too immature to care so much about that. They just want a person who is fun to be around, and normally people who are fun to be around are the ones who are FUNny (no pun intended). If you are a creative person who engages in any form of the fine arts, then humor may be a bit easier for you. However, I have also seen the simplest, most talent-less people become funny. The way they do it is…is that they observe the people who are already funny. They observe their style, and they put their personality into their own perspective. They also remember their jokes so, from time to time they can copy off of them. However, don’t do this in front of the original joker. They will feel like they want to punch you in the face. The most insulting thing you can ever do to a comic is to leech off of their jokes and expect to gain their credit. Why? Because comedy is an art. If somebody stole your idea of a priceless painting and published it to get all the credit, wouldn’t you be just as angry? Well that is how the comic feels whenever a person steals their jokes.

    The best thing you could do is to watch a lot of comedy shows. Don’t steal lines off of mainstream shows such as South Park or Lewis Black’s Root of all Evil. EVERYBODY seems to watch those, even people who aren’t too fond of comedy. However, you may cite the jokes from this show to gain some sort of familiar ground with a fellow fan of the show. If they recognize it, they will laugh and give you a very reassuring look. However, if you cite them as if it is your own joke, then that is when someone will accuse you of stealing it from (insert name of comedian here)–because you did.

    Once you’ve established being funny, also learn how to be more in-tune with yourself. Get past your faults and your bad traits–forget about it, you have a great personality, who the fuck cares? Once you accept yourself, it is when others will be able to accept you. Confidence is the key, and confidence does indeed encourage charisma.

    So just gain confidence, forget the fact that you even have a burn and if you can’t, then bring it up a lot to get people to laugh at it, and last but not least: be funny and extremely fun to be around. Be outgoing, talk to everybody, even if you secretly know that they have bad judgments about you. One conversation can change a lot.

  58. Palestinian Dania - Dubai Says:

    Wow..Istumbled upon this site ..I truly loved this article .. It’s my first time ..actually my first momnet ..oh boy, I couldn’t stop reading .. the writer must be charming enough to figure it out (would love to meet him in person lol) duh ! anyhow .. iam so damn grateful ! have a gr8 life :)

    ps : Yes,I’m a total moron ! lol

  59. Palestinian Dania - Dubai Says:

    * moment >> can’t survive without spelling mistakes. :)

  60. Brian Kim Says:

    dsdjskdsd,

    Thanks for taking the time to give Melbyloohoo that advice. I really appreciate it!

    Palestinian Dania,

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it!

    It’s great to hear that you’ve got a great life. Keep it up ;)

  61. Dessel Says:

    Greetings, Mr. Kim!

    I’ve just read some of your writings here and I find them amazing and completely agree with them! We have very similar mindsets! :)
    I respect you for being out there supporting us with this kind of information based of experience, you must be a very nice person! :)

    However, socializing has always been my weakest part, I’m just so unsure about what to do when it comes to that. I guess I lack self-confidence to go to people and start conversations with them, even if I really want to. This is mainly with girls, I always run out of topics, things to say and we end up standing there silently.. :)
    People like me and say I’m a nice person and whatsoever but I just can’t take relationships to the next level.. My intention is always the best but I usually say stupid things I don’t mean, things that make me look stupid, the exact opposite of what I think. I don’t know why this is, maybe because I’m just nervous when talking to people. I really want to be able to talk with people freely, have fun with them or talk about some more serious things. I’m trying to apply and implement these things but it’s a lot harder when you are there, standing in front of a person. :)

    Recently happened (also some other times), that a girl had a crush on me and kept looking at me. I also liked her, therefore I tried to talk with her but as I’ve written above, I failed.. :) I feel this part ruins everyhing, that’s why I really want to improve on it, that’s why I’m reading this topic now.

    I would be very grateful if you could tell your opinion about this but I understand if you don’t have the time.

    Keep up the good work! ;)

    Regards,

    Dessel

  62. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Dessel,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    I think this article will help with your problems:

    http://briankim.net/blog/2007/07/how-to-be-less-shy-around-other-people/

  63. Nick Says:

    This really helped me alot. I’m naturally an introvert, but I have alot of charm and humor and people are drawn to me when I show my colors. I never really understood what I had until I realized that my idols possess this talent, including my grandfather. But latley, I haven’t been very charming. I’ve been depressed, angry, negative, and I have alot of good reasons to do so. I’ve been thinking back and forth about what my idols have that I don’t, and how can I get my endless entertainment and charm value back, and I thought that maybe it’s because they don’t automate their thinking, they’re just cool, they don’t let nervousness and anxiety take control of them, and they just say what they want to say instead of being unreaslistically censored by their own filter of thought. I figured out that tips 1,2,3,5,6,7,8, are the things I’ve always been best at, and number 1 is the one that, for me, makes it all possible to use. I need to get my life in order and get my confidence. If I’m not intimidated by the person, and I’m not trying to impress them or convince them something, then I’m just being myself and I’m comfortable to be somewhere inmy own skin and allow others to talk. This is all I needes. Some, I don’t know about philosophical, but motivational is an understatment, advice. It’s just techniques and methods of thinking. Usually people focus too much on what your image should be and not enough on how to make the image happen, how to think like that. SO thanks very much for the help. I know I’ll be reading more of your blogs. Arriverderci.

  64. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for sharing your thought process out loud on paper as I think many will relate to it.

    I think you NAILED it, especially about the part how people focus too much on what the image should be, and not enough on bringing it into reality.

    Very well said.

    Also, with you being an introvert, this article may appeal to you if you haven’t already read it.

    http://briankim.net/blog/2007/10/top-5-things-every-extrovert-should-know-about-introverts/

  65. Mohamed Says:

    Hi Brian,

    I have been reading some of your articles and never thought of posting a reply (dunno why). But this one kinda tempted me to do so.. It was a nice small article and pretty much anyone could implement these quick steps and get the crowd.

    I’m sure going to implement these in my life. However, I have a quick question?

    Why do people mostly, if not always, think of Charisma in terms of good looks. I’m sure you got my point :)

    Regards,
    Mohamed

  66. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Mohamed,

    To answer your questions, charisma tends to be “easier” for people who have good looks so that’s probably why people make the correlation.

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