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THE CHARISMA EXERCISES
The following quick summaries bring together key exercises detailed throughout this book.
Set a timer for one minute. Close your eyes and try to focus on one of three things:
- Sounds: Scan your environment for sound. Imagine your ears are satellite dishes, passively registering sounds.
- Your breath: Focus on your breath and the sensations it creates in your nostrils or stomach as it goes in and out.
- Your toes: Focus your attention on the sensations in your toes.
Whenever you feel your brain rehashing possible outcomes to a situation, try a transfer of responsibility to alleviate the anxiety.
- Sit comfortably or lie down, relax, and close your eyes.
- Take two or three deep breaths. As you inhale, imagine draw- ing clean air toward the top of your head. As you exhale, let it whoosh out, washing all your worries away.
- Imagine lifting the weight of everything you’re concerned about off your shoulders and placing it in the hands of whichever benevolent entity you’d like to put in charge.
Now that everything is taken care of, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy whatever good you can find along the way.
The next time an uncomfortable emotion is hindering you, try this step-by-step guide to destigmatizing:
- Remind yourself that this is normal and that we all experience it from time to time.
- Think of others who have gone through this, especially people you admire.
- Remember that right now, in this very moment, many others are going through this very same experience.Neutralizing Negativity
Use these techniques anytime you’re having persistent negative thoughts and you’d like to lessen their effects.
♦ Remember that these thoughts may be inaccurate.
♦ See your thoughts as graffiti on a wall or as little electrical impulses.
♦ Depersonalize the experience. Observe it as a scientist might:
“How interesting, there are self-critical thoughts arising.”
♦ Imagine yourself from afar. Zoom out to see planet Earth hanging in space. Zoom back in to see your tiny self having a particular experience at this particular moment.
♦ Imagine your mental chatter as coming from a radio; turn the volume down or put the radio to the side.
If a persistent mental annoyance is causing irritation, use one of these techniques to imagine an alternative reality in order to regain a calm internal state:
♦ Ask yourself a few times, “What if this experience is, in fact, a good thing for me?” and watch how creative your mind can get with its answers.
♦ When you’re dealing with more serious situations, write down your new realities by hand. Write: “The presentation is going well . . .” Or, better yet, use past tense: “The presentation was a complete success . . .”
♦ Think of someone who has aggrieved you.
♦ Take a blank page and write them a letter saying everything you wish you had ever told them. Make sure you write it out by hand.
♦ When you’ve gotten absolutely everything off your mind, put the letter aside.
♦ Now write their answer, apologizing for everything they’ve
done and taking responsibility for all their hurtful actions.
♦ For maximum effect, reread their apology a few times over the course of a week
Delving into Sensations
To practice your endurance in uncomfortable situations, find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit with a partner, and set a timer for thirty seconds.
♦ Look into your partner’s eyes. As soon as you become aware of discomfort, notice where the feelings are located in your body.
♦ Delve into each sensation as much as you can; feel its texture. Describe each as if you were a chef describing a featured dish.
♦ Let the discomfort build. Observe and name the sensations you feel: hot, cold, tightness in your jaw, a knot in your stomach.
♦ Resist the urge to laugh, talk, or relieve the discomfort.
♦ Try the same practice again, this time giving yourself continu- ous encouragement. Remind yourself that your efforts will reap rewards and that the discomfort will pass.
Stretching Your Comfort Zone
Strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. When you’re standing or sitting near someone, see if there’s something they’re looking at that could give you something with which to start the conversation.
Let’s say you’re in a coffee shop waiting in line. You could make any small comment about the pastries, and follow with an open- ended question (one that cannot be answered with a yes or no). Say something like: “I’m trying to decide which is most sinful: the muffin, the brownie, or the coffee cake. How would you rank them?”
Close your eyes and relax. Employ your senses as you focus on a moment in your life when you felt triumphant:
♦ Hear the sounds in the room: the murmurs of approval, the swell of applause.
♦ See people’s smiles and expressions of warmth and admiration.
♦ Feel your feet on the ground and the congratulatory handshakes.
♦ Above all, experience your feelings, the warm glow of confidence rising within you.
For quick gratitude access, find three things you can approve of right now. Scan your body and your environment for little, tangible things you could be grateful for.
Take the three steps below to practice compassion for someone:
- Imagine their past. What was it like growing up in their family and experiencing their childhood?
- Imagine their present. Put yourself in their place. See through their eyes. Imagine what they might be feeling right now.
- Imagine delivering their eulogy.Self-Compassion
Keep a self-compassion list. Jot down five ways that you already care for yourself when you’re having a hard time. If you’re on a roll, go for ten. Star those that are particularly effective.
The visualization below will guide you through Metta step-by-step. If you’d prefer to hear me guide you through this exercise, you’ll find a recording at the top of this page.
♦ Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take two or three deep breaths, letting them wash all your worries away.
♦ Think of any occasion in your life when you performed a good deed, however great or small.
♦ Now think of a being—present, past, mythical, or actual; per- son, pet, or even stuffed animal—that you can imagine having warm affection for you.
♦ Picture this being in your mind, and see their warmth, kindness, and compassion. Imagine their affection and let it envelop you.
♦ Feel them give you complete forgiveness for everything your inner critic says isn’t good enough about you or your life.
♦ Feel them giving you complete acceptance as you are right now, with all your imperfections, at this stage of your progression.
Using Your Body to Change Your Mind
Try out the following postures to see for yourself just how powerfully the position of your body can affect your mind and your feelings:
♦ Adopt the body language of someone who’s depressed. Let your shoulders slump, head hang, and face sag. Without moving a muscle, try to feel really, truly excited. It’s nearly impossible.
♦ Now do the opposite. Physically spring into excitement. Jump up and down, smile the biggest smile you can, wave your arms in the air, and while doing all this, try to feel depressed. Again, it’s nearly impossible.
The Perfect Handshake
- Keep your right hand free.
- Use plenty of eye contact, and smile warmly but briefly.
- Keep your head straight and face the other person.
- Keep your hand perpendicular, thumb pointing straight to the ceiling.
- Get full palm contact by draping your hand diagonally downward.
- Wrap your fingers around your counterpart’s hand.
- Once you make full contact, squeeze to their level of firmness.
- Shake from the elbow, step back, and then let go.
In your next conversation, see if you can practice not interrupting. Let the other person interrupt, and from time to time wait a second or two before you answer while letting your face show the impact of what they’ve just said.
You can gain great insights into your own voice fluctuation by practicing sentences with a tape recorder. Repeat a sentence several times with as wide a variation in styles as you can. Say it with authority, with anger, with sorrow, with empathetic care and concern, with warmth, and with enthusiasm.
The guidelines below will help you broadcast power through your voice.
- Speak slowly. Visualize the contrast between a nervous, squeaky teenager speaking at high speed and the slow, emphatic tone of a judge delivering a verdict.
- Pause. People who broadcast confidence often pause while speaking. They will pause for a second or two between sentences or even in the middle of a sentence. This conveys the feeling that they’re so confident in their power, they trust that people won’t interrupt.
- Drop intonation. You know how a voice rises at the end of a question? Just reread the last sentence and hear your voice go up at the end. Now imagine an assertion: a judge saying “This case is closed.” Feel how the intonation of the word closed drops. Lowering the intonation of your voice at the end of a sentence broadcasts power. When you want to sound super-confident, you can even lower your intonation mid-sentence.
- Check your breathing. Make sure you’re breathing deeply into your belly and inhale and exhale through your nose rather than your mouth. Breathing through your mouth can make you sound breathless and anxious.
Charismatic Seating Choices
The next time you want to establish warm rapport with someone, avoid a confrontational seating arrangement and instead sit either next to or at a 90-degree angle from them. These are the positions in which we feel most comfortable. In fact, this is an exercise you can try out with a partner.
♦ Start a conversation at a 90-degree angle
♦ After five minutes, change positions so that you’re sitting across from each other. You’ll likely feel a clear difference in comfort level.
♦ After another five minutes, move back to a 90-degree angle, and feel the difference.
♦ Finally, come back to your original position sitting next to each other.
Pay close attention to the rise and fall of feelings of trust and comfort throughout the exercise.
Being the Big Gorilla
Use this exercise when you want to both feel and broadcast confidence—for instance before a key meeting, or with someone who’s a bit intimidating.
- Make sure you can breathe. Loosen any clothing if need be.
- Stand up and shake up your body.
- Take a wide stance and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
- Stretch your arms to the ceiling.
- Stretch your arms to the walls on either side of you.
- INFLATE. Try to take up as much space as possible.
- Roll your shoulders up and then back.
- Imagine yourself as a four-star general reviewing his troops.Puff up your chest, broaden your shoulders, and put your arms behind your back.
♦ Check your body. Make sure no tense posture is worsening your internal state.
♦ Take a deep breath, relax your body.
♦ Destigmatize and dedramatize. This happens to everyone, and it will pass.
♦ If any negative thoughts are present, remember that they’re just thoughts, and not necessarily valid.
♦ Find little things to be grateful for: your ability to breathe, the fact that you will still be alive by the end of this.
♦ Imagine getting a great hug from someone you trust for twenty seconds (of course, you may not have twenty seconds, but if you do, this is remarkably effective).
Once your threat response is quieted down, to bring yourself back into a state of confidence remember a moment in your life when you felt absolute triumph. Thanks to your brain’s inability to distinguish imagination from reality, your body will be filled with the same cocktail of chemicals (yes, we’re helping you play chemist with your brain) as it was during that confidence-filled moment, thereby changing your body language into exactly what you need to be impressive, persuasive, and inspiring again.
Think of the next low-stakes conversation you’re going to have and follow the steps below to show a little vulnerability:
♦ Select a small vulnerability you could share.
♦ To prepare, perform a responsibility transfer for the outcome of this exercise.
♦ During the conversation, ease into the sharing by saying “You know, I have to tell you . ..” Or prepare the terrain with “I’m feeling a bit nervous about saying this, but . . .”
♦ Ask for their confidentiality. Not only will this make you feel safer, it will make people treasure the moment. People love secrets.
♦ Perform a quick responsibility transfer immediately after sharing the vulnerability.