I recognized the actor right away. I didn't know his name, but I knew it was him. I was eating dinner in a busy restaurant with my business partner John.
I leaned over to John, "Hey, isn't that the guy from Boardwalk Empire?"
John wasn't sure. We were winding down our dinner. The basketball game was playing at the bar. I wanted to strike up a conversation with the actor.
So we went to the bar to get a closer look. Sure enough, it was him. Domenick Lombardozzi.
I stepped closer. My posture was pin perfect. My shoulders back and head high. My demeanor was calm. At that moment, I felt that I was the epitome of charisma.
Using a mildly positive tone when I spoke, I shot my hand out and said, "I love your work on Boardwalk Empire." Not too chirpy, not like a crazed fan would do.
Moderate, with confident optimism. Pitch perfect.
He smiled, reached out his hand and said, "Thank you for the compliment, that's a nice thing to say." I gestured to John to come closer so I could introduce him.
The actor, with a group of his friends, turned his body to face us. I asked him what he was doing in Westchester County, New York (a suburb of New York City).
He said he lived here. He then asked me if I lived here as well. I told him that I did. In a small town called Chappaqua.
He complimented Chappaqua, and responded that he lived in a neighboring town called Pleasantville. I asked him what it was like to live in Pleasantville?
He smiled, and said, "Pleasant."
We all looked up at the basketball game playing on the flat screen. The conversation was dwindling. I wracked my brain to think of what to say next.
He turned to me and said, "Hey, remind me what your name is again?"
Beaming, I replied, "I'm Chris." He reached out his hand to shake mine. Saying, "Chris, it's been great to meet you, enjoy the game."
It took a few seconds for it to register.
Oh. My. God.
I'm a dolt. A cocky, intrusive, and annoying dolt. How embarrassing.
Mr. Lombardozzi is a gentlemen, the epitome of charisma and good taste. I was an annoyance, the creator of an awkward conversation.
Let's break down how Mr. Lombardozzi handled me like a newborn chick in his palm, while I thought I was the cock of the walk.
Compliment the compliment.
The moment I approached him, Domenick must have known what was coming. He's been acting for many years, and I can't be the first person to have recognized him.
So he complimented my compliment, transferring the admiration back to me, which made me feel like a genius.
Charismatic people can make you feel special. Even if you're not.
Domenick didn't allow himself to get annoyed. He turned away from his circle of friends, squared his shoulders, and locked in to John and myself. We distracted him, and he remained present. He gave us his full attention, and we basked in it.
Charismatic people make you feel like the center of their universe.
While enjoying our gentle banter, I thought I was the charm master. At every inquiry, Domenick masterfully deflected the attention to me. He didn't just answer a question, he would answer, respond, and then follow up with an engaging inquiry back, deflecting focus off himself and allowing me to blab on and on.
Charismatic people keep the attention on you.
Close the conversation with elegance.
When Domenick decided our conversation was over, he shut it down. But he did so with manners and panache.
Charismatic people are respectful, appropriate, and can even be elegant in awkward situations.