Turn on the Charm
2. Insight and Passion
Charming people seem extraordinarily tapped into life, fully engaged in the possibilities of the moment, and bystanders are sucked into that engagement, too, just by virtue of sharing their space. High intelligence, curiosity, and creativity -- the ability to see connections between seemingly unrelated things -- form a "sharp perspective," a kind of intelligent charisma that's magnetic.
Charmers also tend to be full of energy, life, and exuberance -- qualities that are extremely contagious, points out Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the author of Exuberance. "People are attracted to Oprah partly because they trust her, but partly because they think some of her energy is going to rub off on them," Dr. Jamison says. "Charming people make other people feel more alive."
Perhaps the most potent charmers are those who manage to inject a lightning bolt of liveliness into otherwise-dull circumstances. Lori Breeden, a grant coordinator in Homewood, Alabama, remembers her college statistics professor, Betty Brazelton, as inimitably charming -- at least partly because Brazelton refused to behave like the stereotypical teacher of a dry subject. "This brilliant, elegant woman, who came to class dressed to the nines, was a fanatic about Auburn University football," Breeden recalls. "On game days she'd paint her face and drive to campus in a car decorated with the school colors, not at all embarrassed by her enthusiasm. She made statistics so much fun that our class presented her with roses on the last day of the semester. I doubt there's another stats prof on earth who can say that."