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Having the IT factor: how to be more magnetic

It turns out that what makes people alluring can be taught and practiced. Now more than ever, as people slowly come out of isolation and physically get back together, being attractive to others is key to establishing new connections and rekindling older ones. Goodness knows we all feel the need start socialising again and we want to be able to feel emotionally comfortable in doing so.

Being attractive to others is also known as being charismatic or having the it factor. We all know people like this and sometimes wish we could be more like them. If you don’t feel that you have it and want it, don’t despair, here is a model for learning it.

The Three Pillar Method

In The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism (2013) author Olivia Fox Cabane outlines how charisma can be catergorised into three pillars: presence, power and warmth.


This is about focusing on the present moment because it forces you listen more actively. Others interpret this as you being interested in them which in turn makes them feel respected, valued and good about themselves. They then associate these feelings with you and want to interact with you. Oprah displays this quality which makes people easily open up to her and want to be with her.


This is about being comfortable in your own skin and self - confident. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern uses power positively and is comfortable being a leader her own way. She has said “One of the criticisms I've faced over the years is that I'm not aggressive enough or assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I'm empathetic, it means I'm weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”


Being warm indicates you are open and accepting. It manifests as kindness. The Dali Lama and Mother Teresa are examples. Develop warmth by bringing to mind a person you really like and thinking about what it is you enjoy about being with them. This changes your body chemistry helping you radiate warmth.

Putting the model into practice

The basics

  • Get out and connect with others.

  • Accept more social invitations especially those you might usually shy away from.

  • Start talking to all the different type of people you encounter such as your neighbours, waiters, the postman and sales assistants. Practice pausing for two seconds before responding to what others have said. This will show that you are focusing on the person.

  • Take some time to reflect on your daily interactions. What should you keep doing, stop doing, do differently? Perhaps keep a journal with your thoughts.

Ideas for developing Presence

Listen actively

My favourite active listening model is the Chinese symbol for listening. It incorporates all the components required to listen effectively. You’ll notice that it involves other senses beside your ears.

Ears - notice tone, pace, volume and words emphasised by the speaker. Less variation in these aspects might indicate boredom or disinterest. Speaking quickly, louder and with lots of emphasis usually means the person is engaged in the topic.

Eyes - notice other people’s body language. Animated body language shows interest. Closed and lack of gestures may indicate lack of interest or confidence in the topic. Also check facial expressions and whether someone is looking you in the eye or at the camera if on a conference call. People avoiding eye contact may not be confident in what they are telling you.

Mind - think about what is being said. Either be open to it or critically analyse it. Determine your intention. Notice what words people choose to use as this can further indicate their feelings on the matter. Are they positive or negative words?

Heart - what emotions is the person displaying. Can you empathise with them? Can you help turn their emotions to more positive ones if required?

The centre element indicates that all these components are essential to give focus and attention.

To listen with focus takes concentrated practise. One way of doing this is to take one component per day or week to concentrate on. For example, this week for all major interactions, concentrate on using your ears. Tune into the pace, volume, tone, emphasis and words used. After the interaction take a few moments to reflect on what extra information you got from this concentrated focus. Continue next week with the eyes and so on.

Match and Mirror the other person’s language, tone, pace, volume and body language to establish connection. See more detail here.

Ideas for developing Power

  • Use Positive Affirmations in a way that builds esteem. So instead of saying “I am great at making conversation” say “I’m going to persevere at conversing with others until I find it easy!” This makes the affirmation more believable to yourself and doable.

  • Identify your strengths and develop them further. For example, if others exclaim that you are a wonderful cook, then invite people over to eat more often and experiment with different cuisines. If you get complements on your craft work, think about taking an advanced class. A great resource on this idea is the Clifton Strengths.

  • Learn to accept compliments by saying “thank you” or “kind of you to say so” instead of “oh it’s nothing” or “it must have been a fluke.”

  • Replace self-criticism with self-compassion. When being critical of yourself ask yourself, “what would my good friend say to me in this situation?”

  • Affirm your positive qualities to keep self- esteem high. For example, if you don’t get a job, list down what makes you a good employee. If a relationship doesn’t progress, list what makes you a good friend / partner / family member. Refer to your lists when you need a boost.

Ideas for developing Warmth

  • Smile more often. This makes others feel more comfortable makes you seem more approachable.

  • Always be polite. This shows your respect for those you’re interacting with and helps others respond to you in kind.

  • Share more. This shows others that you are generous and fosters it in them. You can share physical things or things that make people feel good such as complements, stating appreciation for something, being welcoming or understanding. Regularly donate things you no longer use.

  • Regularly do things for others to make them feel good and in turn this will come back to you, aka Karma.

  • Get more ideas from the Kindness Project and Random Acts of Kindness.

Over to you

What ideas will try out?


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