Ask people to describe the world's most charming individuals and what you'll often hear isn't details of how those people behave, but instead stories of how they make other people feel.

Take English journalist Jenni Murray's encounter with legendary charmer Bill Clinton as an example. "He made you feel for those few short moments that you were the only woman in the world and he'd never met anyone as interesting or as lovely as you," she wrote of her brief encounter with the former president at a reception in 2004.

How do the likes of Clinton and others with "reality distortion field" levels of charisma manage to create this spellbinding impression? It's not magic, it's a set of skills, according to a Quora thread covering the topic that has over 100 answers, several from experts in the field. Across this vast array of advice, a few key, learnable techniques emerge.

1. Don't talk so much!

Many people think making other people feel comfortable and entertained is about saying the right things, but according to many of the Quora respondents, the real trick isn't talking well, it's listening well, and for that you need to actually shut your mouth. "Realize that to make others feel important, you will share the spotlight, or sometimes, you'll stand behind it," writes charisma coach (yes, apparently there is such a thing) Jeff Callahan in his response.

To do that, "go into conversations with the mindset of 'I'm going to hold the spotlight for other people tonight,'" he suggests.

2. Make the other person feel like an expert.

As CEO Kristina Kirilova points out in the thread's most up-voted answer, casting the other party in the role of expert and mining them for their knowledge works to deepen your connection in two powerful ways. First, it "grabs people directly by their ego," and second "you can learn a lot of stuff from them." You're interested, they're flattered. What could possibly be bad in that?

And what's even better, this can works with pretty much everybody. "Everyone you meet knows something that you don't," notes writer Bradley Parker, who suggests you "let them speak at length about it and make them feel knowledgeable."

3. Ask better questions.

Callahan also stresses the need to not just ask questions, but to ask good questions. What constitutes a good question? Founder Julian Reisinger offers one specific example: "Ask people for their prediction of the future with an open-ended 'How' or 'What' question. The beauty of this question is, that you can ask it to anyone at any time and it's always appropriate." For example, he offers that on a date you could ask, "What do you think this exact place is going to look like 10 years from now?"

For more ideas on great questions to ask, Callahan suggests you listen to podcast interviews and "watch clips of late night talk shows on YouTube. Steal the questions and use them at your next dinner party."

4. Focus.

If you want the other person to feel like they're at the center of your world, unsurprisingly, it helps to actually put them at the center of your world for the duration of your conversation. So put your damn phone down! "The best way to show someone that you're not interested in their stories and in them in general, is constantly playing with your phone," Kirilova stresses.

There are other ways to get distracted too, such as scanning the room for other people you want to meet, fiddling with your hair or hands, or letting other worries or concerns divide your attention. Eliminate those distractions too if you're aiming for killer charisma. "Actually be invested in the conversation, don't follow it half-heartedly because they will know," warns student Teresa Lin.

5. Mind your body language.

All of these tricks won't work if your questions say, 'I'm interested' but your body says 'I'm nervous and distracted,' so mind a few body language basics as well. "Pointing your torso towards your listener is a nonverbal sign of respect. It communicates that you are fully engaged in the conversation," suggests behavior expert Liam Hayes.

Your eyes are also vastly important, a host of respondents agree. "Eye contact is crucial for connecting with your fellow humans," explains Callahan, who offers this trick for ensuring you make enough but don't cross into creepy territory: "Try to make enough eye contact that you could tell me the... eye color of your conversational partner... Do people look away consistently? Then ease off on eye contact."

And last but not least, smile. "Certain behaviors -- like smiling-- trigger mirror neurons in our brain and our face automatically reflects what the eyes see. The other person can subconsciously pick up if you are truly interested," claims body language coach John Roldan.

Published on: Sep 7, 2016
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