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Book Review: The Power of Charm

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If you’re like me (and I sincerely hope you’re not), you sometimes (all the time) underperform in social situations, business situations, really any situation that requires interaction with fellow humans. You have trouble looking people in the eye, and then you work so hard forcing yourself to look them in the eye that they end up thinking you’re a lunatic who can’t break eye contact. Or, perhaps, you overcompensate for your nervousness by talking extremely loud and saying whatever is at the top of your head, filtering nothing. In short, you annoy people, or, worse, scare them.

If you’re like me (again, my condolences), you might want to pick up a copy of The Power of Charm by Brian Tracy and Ron Arden. I wasn’t previously familiar with Arden, but Brian Tracy is an old smoothie who has been charming people into buying what he sells for years, from tangible product to executive coaching. I once saw him in a day-long session with Anthony Robbins and a bunch of other motivators, and he was very charming. So I believed with good reason that his book could help me.

The Power of Charm could be just a bunch of platitudes about how the way to be charming is to listen to people and compliment them on their wardrobes, but this book goes beyond that (although shutting up and listening is definitely a main idea.) We’re talking step-by-step here, including chapters on Eye Contact, The Flick, Head Tilts, Head Nods and Be Quick to Smile and Laugh. You may think I’m making fun, and in a way I am, but only at myself because I actually need a book to tell me to do these things, and, if you’re like me, you do, too.

I realize I may be giving you the impression that this is a book only for socially inept agoraphobics (fear of the marketplace). This is not the case, I’ve just been having a little fun (at my own expense).

In truth, this book is more of a short refresher course, a reminder that the way to charm people, whether that means getting them to buy from you, think like you, or love you, is by putting your focus on them instead of on yourself. Yes, there really is a chapter called Head Nods, but unfortunately you may have fallen out of the habit of giving people any sort of nonverbal encouragement when they are speaking, instead standing there with a slight scowl on your ugly mug, and a reminder to nod your head and smile once in a while might do you some good.

No matter what your skill level in charming people in business or in your personal life, The Power of Charm can serve as a good checklist to make sure you’re getting the job done right.

I tried some techniques on my wife (how I managed to get someone to marry me is still a mystery), and they worked like a charm, you might say. She started to talk, I put the book down, made eye contact, leaned forward a bit in my chair, smiled and laughed when she said something amusing, and I’ll be darned if she didn’t say, “I like that you’re listening so hard.”

Sure, I didn’t need Brian Tracy to tell me that my wife would be happier if I gave her my full attention, but of course I sort of did need him to tell me, otherwise she wouldn’t have been so surprised and delighted when I gave her more than 20 percent of my brain activity for a couple of minutes.

We could all be a little more charming, some (like me) more than others. So, zip through The Power of Charm to see how you’re doing and how you could improve. You might be surprised at what you’ll learn (or what you’ve forgotten). Then go charm someone – you’ll both enjoy it.

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About Justin McHenry

  • Duane

    I’m charming enough, dadgummit. Now get off my lawn!