I received the following message today from a coworker:
Hey Jen! I know we didn’t get to work together much, but I always appreciated your humor and wit in those few times we sat together in the Project Writers meetings. I’m leaving (our company) and my last day is Sep 25. Just wanted to say goodbye and best of luck!
I don’t know her very well. Her reaching out to me via company Slack to send me a sweet and personalized goodbye message gave me all the warm fuzzies.
That’s what charming people do. They leave you feeling better than before you interacted with them. It’s a magical gift that I don’t have but very much aspire to one day own.
I made a list of the charming people in my life and narrowed down their commonalities. They are very rare. I identified only seven people in my life who met the criteria. These are the traits and actions they have in common.
They remember things
We all love hearing the sound of our own names. Successful business people know to repeat, “It’s nice to meet you Joe” upon introductions — not only to say the name out loud but to make sure they remember it.
Forgetting someone’s name is akin to telling them they aren’t memorable or worth holding a slot in someone’s memory bank. When you remember someone’s name, especially someone you haven’t seen in a long time, it sends the message that they’re important. Everyone loves to feel valued and remembering their name is an easy way to convey that.
Bonus points if you can remember an anecdote or fact about the other person. Saying, “Hey, how is your mother? Last time I saw you she had a broken wrist” goes a long way in making yourself memorable and charming to others.
They make you feel good
In my coworker’s quick message to me, she tossed in two compliments (my dazzling wit and humor…minus the word “dazzling” but I know it’s implied). With just one sentence she brightened my morning. She’d didn’t compliment me to butter me up for a favor or because I was fishing for nice words. It was genuine and that’s what makes it feel good.
When you make others feel good about themselves, they want to be around you even more.
Last week I told another coworker that she was one of the most charming people I’ve ever met. She said no one had ever told her that before, which blew my mind. My goal wasn’t to be charming when I complimented her. Rather, I wanted to give credit where credit is due because I never want her to change and become jaded in our politically-charged workforce.
They don’t smack talk
Let me acknowledge that I’m the queen of smack talk. If you’re being a dick, I’m going to call you out for being a dick. That’s not how charming people do things. They bring people in instead of pushing them away.
One such charming person was in a meeting for a project that was a disaster. The company was riding on this product and it rolled downhill for months. Managers and executives (aka, bigwigs) pointed fingers at different departments. Lots of smacktalk about other teams. Finally, my coworker, who saw a great career opportunity to become the project’s new program manager, announced to the room, “Hey! It’s not about who failed or messed up. We all failed. This is on all of us. Now we have to fix it.”
Needless to say, the company CTO and everyone else in the room bowed their heads in agreement. Once again, charm wins.
They show genuine emotion
If I told you something tragic happened to me, most likely you’d stammer a generic apology and ask how I’m doing. It’s not a bad thing. We’re not well-trained on how to speak when someone voices sad news.
Charming people feel true empathy. They’re the ones who immediately put their hand over their hearts and exclaim, “Oh my God! That’s just awful. I’m so sorry.” At that moment, they truly understand your hurt. Sharing in the pain, even briefly, is incredibly comforting.
Pre-kids, I had a cat that I would take a bullet for. There’s no bereavement leave from work when your pet dies. I was quiet and mopey. My coworker Bill came into my office and told me all about a dog of his that he loved but passed away. It wasn’t one of those, “Oh Em Gee I know exactly how you feel! My dog died blah blah blah.” It was about him telling a story to express his understanding of my hurt in a way that made me feel like being distraught over “just a cat” was okay.
They’re happy to help
My charming friends and coworkers are not all natural leaders. They don’t walk into a room demanding leadership. However, they’re always the first to walk in and ask how they can help.
Charming people give of themselves. Sometimes it’s emotion. Sometimes it’s blood, sweat, and tears. They do it without expecting anything in return. They sacrifice themselves for the sake of those around them.
One such charming coworker over the years has made it known to any female that if they’re experiencing a problem at work, they can come to her discreetly and she’s willing to help navigate the intimidating Human Resources system. When she first said this years ago, I thought for sure she was going to get pushed out for being a company troublemaker (in a bro culture company, women complaining about their experience was an inconvenience). Instead, her reputation grew as someone dependable and willing to help others, despite the risk to her career.
I believe charming personalities are born, not made. However, I think it doesn’t hurt to learn from their behaviors and work towards being as charming as possible. No one has ever faulted someone with, “Hey remember Bob? He was way too charming”.
In a world of narcissists and keyboard warriors, we could all benefit by spreading the positive traits that come naturally to charming people.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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