If you're not sure introverts can be charismatic, then I have two words for you, and those two words are "Keanu Reeves." Not as irrationally obsessed with Point Break as I am? Then how about Barack Obama? Or Michael Jordan? Or Meryl Streep? Or Jimi Hendrix? Or most grunge era rock stars

There are plenty of quieter types who know how to cast a spell when they want to. What's their secret? 

Magnetic introverts are as diverse as magnetic extroverts, and as such their strategies are as varied as they are. But authenticity, self possession, and passion seem to play a major role in the magnetism of each of them. The first step to getting other people to like you is to like yourself enough to actually be yourself around other people. 

But while there is no single recipe for introvert charm, there are a few handy techniques you can arm yourself with as you work out your own particular brand of charisma. 

Deflect the spotlight to boost your charisma 

One of the most useful ones I've read recently comes via writer Barry Davret. The technique he recommends is called reversals and it builds on a widely accepted principle of likability -- people tend to be charmed by people who are genuinely interested in them. 

That's why speaking coaches instruct speakers to focus on serving the audience to boost their impact, and why actors learn to focus on their scene partners rather than themselves. We are all calmer and more charming when we're focused on other people rather than our own performance. 

Which actually gives introverts a leg up when it comes to charm. We might not be naturally gifted at spinning stories on the spot, revealing ourselves publicly, or pushy persuasion techniques, but most of us are good listeners. Much of Davret's advice boils down to leaning into the role of engaged conversation partner and deflecting interest from yourself back to the person you're trying to charm. Reversals are a great way to accomplish that.

"A reversal is a brief statement or question designed to keep the focus on the other person," Davret writes. "Think of it as a game of ping pong where one player does just enough to keep the rally going. It allows you to steer the conversation while your partner controls its destination, avoiding uncomfortable territory."

By continually egging the other person on to reveal more about whatever subject they've decided to talk about, you both signal your interest in a topic that clearly engages them and avoid the trap of steering the conversation somewhere the other party doesn't want to go. What does that look like in practice? Davret offers a useful list of reversals you can try: 

  • "Really? Can you tell me more, or is that the whole story?"

  • "Curious, how did that make you feel?"

  • "How so? You have me intrigued."

  • "Wow. Wasn't expecting that. And then what?"

  • "Why is that? If you don't mind me asking."

  • "And? Don't stop now. I need to hear the rest."

  • "That makes sense. What else?"

Note that each contains some squishy statement of encouragement or appreciation like "That makes sense" or "You have me intrigued." Including this type of softener, Davret stresses, is essential as it keeps the conversation from feeling like an interrogation. 

So next time you're at an in-person event (yay, we get to go to in-person events again!) and you're worried about charming despite your quiet nature, keep Davret's reversals in mind. They're a great way to simultaneously deflect the spotlight and boost your charisma. 

But keep Keanu Reeves and the others above in mind too. Tricks and techniques to increase your likability are great, but they're only an add-on to the central truth of charm -- self belief (even if it's limited to a particular area like guitar or basketball or conversational prowess) is the foundation of all charisma, no matter your personality type.