Charmed, I’m sure
You’re very smart. You’re extremely loyal. You even work hard at your job (on occasion).
Yet, your career is going nowhere. You’re not advancing in your company. You’re not getting job offers from outside your company. On LinkedIn, you’re Linked Out.
Do you know what’s missing?
Charm! You don’t got no charm.
Charm is a squishy attribute, I admit, but you instantly know who has it and who doesn’t. George Clooney has it. I have it. You — that’s another story.
The happy ending of that sorry story is that you can become charming. Not as charming as George or me, of course, but charming enough to make a difference in what we laughingly call your career.
And Tiffanie Wen knows just how to do it.
“The Tricks to Make Yourself Effortlessly Charming” is the title of a recent article penned by Wen for BBC Worklife.
One totally unsurprising revelation in the piece is that “research has proven the people we meet often make judgments about us based purely on the way we look.”
While the cost of the extensive plastic surgery required to make one look charming is significant (I speak for my case. What George spent, I don’t know.), there are noninvasive tricks to turn your face into your fortune.
According to “likability coach” Jack Schafer, “The three major things we do when we approach somebody that signal we are not a threat are: an eyebrow flash — a quick up and down movement of the eyebrow that lasts about a sixth of a second — a slight head tilt, and a smile.”
Perhaps, but if you could quickly generate a smile in the midst of the daily drudgery of your job, you wouldn’t need to be all that charming. Also, who has the time to devote to eyebrow flashing? With over 20 seasons of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” available online, you don’t have a sixth of a second to spare.
The head tilt, however, could work for you. Just carry a pillow on your shoulder and tilt away.
Another charming trick is to listen to people. Executive coach Olivia Fox Cabane measures charm by “how delightful it is to interact with somebody.” I’m not sure many of your co-workers would describe an interaction with you as “delightful,” but that’s OK. All you have to do is start showing “a genuine interest in what they are saving.”
Which you do already, right? You’re always interested in whatever boring rubbish your colleagues are spouting, as long as they are willing to be genuinely interested in you for a decent amount of time. I’d say 2 hours and forty-three minutes is a decent amount. But if they’re still interested, or have become comatose, feel free to continue.
A trick recommended by Seattle University’s Suzanne de Janasz calls for “emphasizing common ground, even when your opinions diverge.” One area to find commonality, she suggests, is current events. This is risky. If you are betting that the common ground that you and the target of your charm is likely to share is the desired outcome of the 2020 presidential election — don’t. Just don’t.
Instead, stick to the areas of uncommon ground on which we all agree.
I can’t come up with any, myself, but there must be one, don’t you think?
Shafer provides another trick to fuel a charm offensive — body language. “When people are conversing and they begin to mirror one another, it is a signal that you have good rapport.”
I agree! Next time you meet with your supervisor, push aside the visitor’s chair, drop to the carpet, and go into Spider Pose. It’s yoga 101, and I’m sure you can do it if you load up on ibuprofen first. If your supervisor doesn’t immediately mirror you, switch to the Double Bound Balancing Half Moon. Nobody can resist that one, and when the meeting is over, you can share a cab to the orthopedic surgeon.
A final trick, also from Shafer, is to generate charm by telling “all sorts of intimate details about your life.”
You may think no one cares about the personal pain you felt in the YMCA Princess program, or your yearlong battle with toenail fungus, but you’re wrong. Everything about you is fascinating, and listening to you spout off about your intimate feelings will overwhelm everybody with your charm.
Even people with whom you’ve worked for years never tire of hearing about your favorite sexual positions, all 107 of them.
Bob Goldman is a nationally syndicated columnist.