AskDefine | Define charisma

Dictionary Definition

charisma n : a personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others [syn: personal appeal, personal magnetism]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Charisma



From (charisma) "grace, favour, gift" < (charizomai) "I show favor" from (charis) "grace" from (chairō) "I am happy"


  1. Personal charm or magnetism
  2. An extraordinary power granted by the Holy Spirit
  3. The ability to influence without the use of logic.



personal charm or magnetism
extraordinary power granted by the Holy Spirit
ability to influence without the use of logic

Extensive Definition

The word charisma (from the Greek word χάρισμα (kharisma), "gift" or "divine favor," from kharizesthai, "to favor," from kharis, "favor": see also charism, Charis) refers to a rare trait found in certain human personalities usually including extreme charm and a 'magnetic' quality of personality and/or appearance along with innate and powerfully sophisticated personal communicability and persuasiveness.

Charismatic traits

Although difficult or even impossible to define accurately (due to a lack of widely accepted criteria in regard to the trait), charisma is often used to describe an elusive, even undefinable personality trait that often includes the seemingly 'supernatural' or uncanny ability to lead, charm, persuade, inspire, and/or influence people. It refers especially to a quality in certain people who easily draw the attention and admiration (or even hatred if the application of such charisma is perceived to be negative) of others due to a 'magnetic' quality of personality and/or appearance. Related terms and phrases include: grace, exuberance, equanimity, mystique, positive energy, joie de vivre, extreme charm, personal magnetism, personal appeal, "electricity," and allure, among many others. Usually many of these specific qualities must be present within a single individual for the person to be considered highly charismatic by the public and their peers.
Despite the strong emotions they so often induce in others, charismatic individuals generally project unusual calmness, confidence, assertiveness, dominance, authenticity, and focus, and almost always possess superb communication and/or oratorical skills. Although the etymology of the word ("divine gift") might suggest that charisma can't be acquired, and despite the persistent inability to accurately define or even fully understand the concept, it is believed that charisma can be taught and/or learned. Others disagree with this assertion and maintain that it is an inborn trait, or acquired through growing up, and that it cannot be learned, taught, or 'gained' at will. Charisma can also be used in a negative way.

The psychology of charisma

The term charisma, derived from Ancient Greek was introduced in scholarly usage by German sociologist Max Weber. He defined charismatic authority to be one of three forms of authority, the other two being traditional (feudal) authority and legal or rational authority. According to Weber, charisma is defined thus: ...a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which s/he is "set apart" from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.
The study, recognition, and development of charisma in individuals is of particular interest to sociologists/psychologists, popular (usually national) politicians, public speakers, actors, movie-stars/movie-producers, casting directors, pop-music stars, trainers/coaches targeting the upper-echelons of the business community (CEOs), and academics or others involved in leadership studies or leadership development, among others.
In some cases highly-extroverted and brutally controlling charismatic leaders have used their personal charisma in extremely destructive and damaging ways throughout human history, for example, Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones. Yugoslav communist dictator Josip Broz Tito was said to be a "charismarch" - - "ruler staying in power by charisma".
Pierre Bourdieu did not have a very different position from that of Weber's, but he stressed that a leader has charisma only if other people accept that s/he has it. Bourdieu argued that charisma usually depends on an "inaugural act" such as a decisive battle or moving speech after which the charismatic person will be regarded as such.

Theories of charisma

Charisma has also been studied as a set of behaviors/traits; for example, a modern psychological approach posits that charisma is basically aggregative, a conglomeration of distinct personality traits that meld well in certain individuals to form the broad quality known as charisma or "personal magnetism."
Theatrically, charisma can sometimes be "performed" on-stage and in films, and is encapsulated in both verbal and non-verbal communication.
The following are Professor Wiseman's general tips on how to be more charismatic:
  • General: Open body posture, hands away from face when talking, stand up straight, relax, hands apart with palms forwards or upwards
  • To an individual: Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them, develop a genuine smile, nod when they talk, briefly touch them on the upper arm, and maintain eye contact
  • To a group: Be comfortable as leader, move around to appear enthusiastic, lean slightly forward and look at all parts of the group
  • Message: Move beyond status quo and make a difference, be controversial, new, simple to understand, counter-intuitive
  • Speech: Be clear, fluent, forceful and articulate, evoke imagery, use an upbeat tempo, occasionally slow for tension or emphasis.

See also

As "divine favor"


External links

charisma in Arabic: كاريزما
charisma in Bulgarian: Харизма (религия)
charisma in Czech: Charizma
charisma in Danish: Karisma
charisma in German: Charisma
charisma in Spanish: Carisma
charisma in Persian: فرهمندی
charisma in French: Charisme (psychologie)
charisma in Korean: 카리스마
charisma in Italian: Carisma (Bibbia)
charisma in Hebrew: כריזמה
charisma in Lithuanian: Charizma
charisma in Macedonian: Харизма
charisma in Dutch: Charisma (karakter)
charisma in Japanese: カリスマ
charisma in Norwegian: Karisma
charisma in Portuguese: Carisma
charisma in Romanian: Carismă
charisma in Russian: Харизма
charisma in Slovak: Charizma (sociológia)
charisma in Serbian: Харизма
charisma in Finnish: Karisma
charisma in Swedish: Karisma
charisma in Ukrainian: Харизма

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

agacerie, allure, allurement, amperage, appeal, armipotence, ascendancy, attraction, attractiveness, aura, authority, beef, beguilement, beguiling, bewitchery, bewitchment, black power, blandishment, blaze of glory, brilliance, brilliancy, brute force, cajolery, captivation, charge, charm, charmingness, clout, cogence, cogency, come-hither, compulsion, consequence, control, credit, dint, dominance, domination, drive, duress, effect, effectiveness, effectuality, eminence, enchantment, energy, enthrallment, enticement, entrapment, envelope, esteem, fascination, favor, flirtation, flower power, forbidden fruit, force, force majeure, forcefulness, full blast, full force, glamour, glory, good feeling, halo, hold, illustriousness, importance, incidental power, inducement, influence, influentiality, insinuation, interest, inveiglement, invitation, leadership, leverage, luster, magic, magnetism, main force, main strength, mana, mastery, might, might and main, mightiness, moment, moxie, muscle power, mystique, nimbus, numinousness, personality, persuasion, pizzazz, poop, potence, potency, potentiality, power, power pack, power structure, power struggle, powerfulness, predominance, preponderance, prepotency, pressure, prestige, productiveness, productivity, puissance, pull, punch, purchase, push, radiance, reign, repute, resplendence, resplendency, rule, say, seducement, seduction, seductiveness, sex appeal, sinew, snaring, splendor, steam, strength, strong arm, suasion, subtle influence, suggestion, superiority, superpower, supremacy, sway, tantalization, temptation, upper hand, validity, vehemence, vigor, vim, virility, virtue, virulence, vitality, wattage, weight, whip hand, winning ways, winsomeness, witchcraft, witchery, wooing
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