Mechanics of Charisma

HUMANS OFTEN OVERLOOK the most obvious things about other humans. As students of human behavior, we are much like Jane Goodall among the chimps, with one exception: We are also chimps. So even though we know a fair amount about people, we can overlook basic things because we are caught up in the interplay that is humanity.

When average people run into a highly charismatic person, what is it that they recall about the person? Everyone who has an encounter with a decidedly charismatic person recounts the story in very similar fashion, regardless of whether the encounter went well or not. Whether it was, “He made me feel as though I was the only person in the room,” or “He made me feel as though he was divine,” it ...

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