How can you be your authentic self and stand out in such a competitive world? You may think you need to be louder, brasher, or more outrageous than the next person to capture attention.

But what if you're not a natural extrovert?

Can introverts be just as captivating as those who are charismatic?

The short answer: Absolutely. 

To explain how, follow with me on a short culinary journey...

For thousands of years, people believed the flavors of sweet, sour, bitter and salty comprised the full spectrum of your tongue's taste.

However, a fifth flavor known as "umami" was identified and is recently creating buzz.

Umami is a savory flavor that coats the taste buds with a lingering impression that dallies on the tongue.

Think of the flavors of finely aged steak, slow-cooked veal stock, anchovies, and Smoky Bacon Pringles.

You know it when you taste it, but it's not easy to describe or categorize.

What does umami have to do with fascination?

Whether you draw people in with stories or influence them with opinions, you stand out when you communicate authentically, and draw on your most unique qualities. 

Your own umami can be a subtle force of attraction that pulls listeners in your direction. It enriches your words, it adds flavor to your messages, it brings depth and nuance to your presentations, your conversations, your writing.

When you consciously channel this force of attraction, your communication is more likely to be savored by your audience. They'll eat up what you say, what you write, what you sell.

That is, if you're drawing on what truly are your most valuable qualities, your authentic umami, and not trying to fake it.

Fake charm is the MSG of communication

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an attempt at manufacturing umami. It's a "flavor enhancer" that tries to create that elusive "flavorful non-flavor" of umami.

MSG causes adverse side effects in a lot of people, including headaches and nausea. The only way to reduce the risk of these conditions is to avoid eating MSG all together.

Trying to communicate in a voice that doesn't come naturally to you by using fake charm and being something you're not is like a chef trying to create a 5-star dish with MSG.

And like MSG, fake charm can cause headaches, upset stomach and overall aversion in your audience.

That's the exact opposite effect you're going for when trying to capture attention and fascinate your audience.

But when you know the qualities that make up the highest and best use of your personality  you can put a strategic framework in place to intentionally fascinate in a way that leverages your natural style, your umami.

You become more refined and skilled at understanding how the world sees you.

There is no substitute for umami--or your unique style of fascination

Frequently, people mistakenly think they should fascinate in a certain way.

But trying to be loud and opinionated doesn't work if you are naturally more of an introvert.

They Introverts communicate carefully, by listening first. They generally remain quiet while they gather and sort information.  Then they can blow everyone away with their fine-tuned solutions and ideas.

But a reserved personality who tries to communicate like, a more charismatic extrovert can come across as inauthentic, and maybe even arrogant or delusional.

This is because extroverts are comfortable communicating with passion and intensity.

They're more likely to be outspoken about their strong opinions. They often lead the discussion, take charge, and motivate others.

To operate at their best, organizations need a combination of introverted and extroverted personalities.

Great organizations, like great recipes, are made of balanced components. Some elements are bold and action-oriented. But they must be complemented by subtle components, lest the organization becomes inoperable (or in the case of a recipe, inedible).

If you're an introvert who thinks you need to always be "on" and up front, you're going to exhaust yourself before you can get very far.

By the same token, an extrovert shouldn't try to fade into the background because their unique umami is naturally bolder.

For a short time, you can pretend to be someone you're not in order to get noticed. But that takes a huge amount of effort, and it doesn't last.

Fake tans, fake gold, and fake laughter quickly lose their appeal, and so does fake charm.