Turn on the Charm
3. Effortless Social Grace
These "high voltage states," to borrow Dr. Jamison's phraseology, are not the only form that charm takes. There's also a subtler version -- sometimes called grace or poise -- that's characterized by knowing exactly what to do or say in every social setting, no matter how unorthodox. Charming people are not fretters, says Michael Levine, author of Charming Your Way to the Top. They're comfortable in their own skin, projecting a kind of self-confidence that makes other people comfortable in theirs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for instance, was the epitome of social ease, whether she was wearing Bermuda shorts and a head scarf at the beach or silk and diamonds at a ball. This kind of charm is grounded in unerring good manners, but it extends beyond basic courtesy: It's about putting others at their ease, no matter the circumstances.
Anna Giattina, a teacher in Birmingham, Alabama, remembers her own mother as serenely unruffled by an endless stream of guests who'd drop in unexpectedly at dinnertime: "There were always extra mouths to feed -- my friends, my father's clients, neighbors, people from church. They'd arrive unannounced and stay indefinitely, but my mother welcomed them all. If there wasn't quite enough food to go around, guests would help themselves from the pantry. That's how comfortable she made them feel."