Is there a way to identify charisma? We know people like George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence ooze it, but where does it come from? Can it be taught, or is it something that’s inborn? These are questions scholars have wrestled with for decades. But thanks to a wave of recent studies, we’re starting to get a more concrete idea of the type of behavior that produces that elusive thing we call charisma.
In a recent deep dive on the subject, The Atlantic explored some of those behavioral elements further. For instance, one recent study found that charismatic people are usually well-rested. Of course, there are some exceptions. It was recently revealed that President Barack Obama only gets five hours of sleep a night, despite being one of our country’s most charismatic leaders ever. But according to researchers who studied sleep-deprived public speakers, people can tell when someone is “running on empty,” which makes them less charismatic.
Another common trait of people who exude charisma is a natural curiosity about the world around them. That thirst for knowledge eventually leads to a greater likelihood of finding common ground with other people. On the other hand, someone who limits their interests to one specific thing can come off as being a little one note.
Perhaps the easiest lesson to learn from charismatic people is their openness to being touched. Watch Tom Cruise shake someone’s hand who he’s never met before, and it will appear as though they’ve known each other for years. According to The Atlantic, some people hope that by touching these charismatic people, some of that charisma might rub off. While there’s no scientific data to back up that hypothesis, too many hugs is never a bad thing.
This post was originally published on August 20, 2016, and has been updated by Sacha Strebe.