Can charisma be learned? An introvert finds out
Shy and reserved, he feels uncomfortable with small talk. A trip to the barber can be excruciating.
"Every time I go to the hairdresser's I'm aware that I'm blowing it," he said in an interview with Tapestry host Mary Hynes.
That's why his interest was piqued when, on a trip to Dubai, he heard about people making hundreds of thousands of dollars by teaching other people to be charismatic.
So when Drury, a freelance journalist, returned home to England he decided to investigate. He called up a charisma coach and, in the name of journalism, engaged his services.
To assess Drury's needs, his coach first spent a few days with him to observe his habits. Afterrwards they sat down together and discussed his faults.
Charisma is two things, really. It's projecting your own value, your own importance, your own authority to other people, and it's also projecting theirs back at them.- Colin Drury
"There were quite a few things," Drury said. "He said I lacked confidence. I kind of feel that too much eye contact is an invasion of personal space, so I don't tend to do that too much — he said I appeared disinterested during small talk."
Drury's coach gave him a few techniques to try out. One had him try to deepen his voice, while another had him changing his posture to appear more confident.
But as he soon found out, it's hard to do that without feeling — and even looking — like you're faking it. Not long after his sessions with his charisma coach, Drury started noticing similar behaviour among British politicians, including now-Prime Minister Theresa May.
"There was a series of photos of three different politicians...all standing in this ridiculous wide-hipped, wide-legged, sort of shoulders-back pose," he said. "It screamed, 'These guys have all been to the same life coach or charisma coach.'"
He wasn't the only one:
What the hell is going on here? This looks like a character selection screen in a shite version of Mortal Combat. <a href="http://t.co/Ru7WfxBwlZ">pic.twitter.com/Ru7WfxBwlZ</a>—@JamieRoss7
"Right George act natural"<br>"ok"<br>"No, stand like a human would stand"<br>"How"<br>"Stand normally"<br>"what" <a href="http://t.co/RCWNor9Exu">pic.twitter.com/RCWNor9Exu</a>—@TechnicallyRon
Osborne even has problems standing, I so hope the country isn't stupid enough to allow this man into Number 10... <a href="http://t.co/Yu3cQRndh1">pic.twitter.com/Yu3cQRndh1</a>—@AtoShroom
So, can charisma be learned? Drury isn't convinced. Some people, he said, just haven't got it.
But, he said, that doesn't mean there isn't some value to be found in the kind of self-criticism that charisma coaching encourages.
"You can't necessarily become George Clooney, but I think you can become a more rounded person, more capable of connecting with others — just happier in your own skin."
Colin Drury is a freelance journalist. Read his article about his experience with a charisma coach over at The Guardian. To hear the full interview with Colin, click Listen.