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Cultivate the skill that will set you apart: Charisma

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Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 12:00 am

You speak well, dress professionally, have impressive experience and can clearly communicate complex information in speech and writing. But thousands of other professionals and job-seekers possess the same qualities. So what sets the movers and shakers apart from the masses? Could it be charisma?

Many people can't quite put their finger on that exact quality that makes certain professionals more desirable to prospective employers and many people believe charisma simply can't be taught.

Not so, says Kurt Mortensen, a leading authority on persuasion, motivation and influence. It is possible for virtually anyone to develop a compelling presence. "Charisma is the ability to empower and persuade others to believe in you, trust in you and want to be influenced by you. If there is just one skill to master out of all the tools of persuasion and influence, it is charisma," Mortensen explains. "It gives you the quickest return on your time and dramatically increases your success and income."

It is possible to cultivate charisma, adding charm and the power to persuade to your repertoire of professional skills. Mortensen says that in order to develop charisma, you must hone 30 specific skills, traits and attributes. In his new book, "The Laws of Charisma," Mortensen offers some advice for developing your personal charisma. Here is his insight into seven charismatic qualities and how you can develop them:

Find your passion - "Passion is critical to influencing others and transmitting charisma," Mortensen says. "Charismatic people radiate heartfelt passion." Exploring new tasks, topics and social or professional interactions will help you discover what you're passionate about - and what doesn't move you. Educating yourself about a particular topic, task or issue is a great way to increase your passion for it.

Know your purpose - When you find your purpose, your life will be easier and more enjoyable, Mortensen says. Ask yourself: "What is my destiny? Where do my interests, gifts and talents lie? What is my mission in life?" People with a purpose ooze charisma and naturally draw others to them. Their purpose inspires others.

Live with integrity - Integrity is consistency between your professed values and your actions. To enhance your charisma and influence others, you must radiate integrity. What do you really believe in? And what are you willing to stand up for?

Tap your creativity - Creativity is the ability to solve a problem by combining old ideas, new ideas and imagination. Tapping your creativity, or inspiring those around you to feel more creative, opens the door to new solutions - and enhances your charisma.

Establish focus - The ability to control impulses, resist distraction and stay focused on the task at hand is an integral element of success. You cannot influence others if you can't stay focused. Ask yourself: What is the best use of my time right now? Am I wasting time on unimportant things? Do I confuse being busy with getting things done? Am I clear about exactly what I need to achieve?

Listen - "Listening and understanding enhance charisma," Mortensen writes in "The Laws of Charisma." When you listen well, you discover everything you need to know to help, change or influence, inspire, motivate and gain trust. "People feel more respected and valued when you listen to what they have to say," he writes.

Motivate - Charismatic people not only motivate others, they help others motivate themselves, aiding them in visualizing goals and inspiring them to feel they can achieve those goals. Helping others self-motivate allows them to solve their own challenges and make their own decisions, while still feeling part of a larger team.

To nurture your personal charisma, you will need to practice every day, says Mortensen, whose new book is available now in bookstores and online. "I was once stretching in preparation for running a half marathon when I saw a T-shirt that revealed a great truth. It said 'The challenge is not finishing; the challenge is starting.' Make up your mind to start the race, and you will know that you are moving toward your goal of finishing."

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