How to Be Charming (Yes, You)

I have a thing for charmers. Male or female, superior or subordinate. Lover or neighbour. I love a charmer. I am also very charming myself. A typical Libran, I can usually get what I want in life because I know how to turn on the charm. For a while. As well as this, I have dated quite a few Librans and I can say that unequivocally, Librans are all charming.

Are charmers just manipulators?

There is an element of manipulation in charm. Benjamin Schwartz wrote an interesting article on The Rise and Fall of Charm in American Men. He says:

Only the self-aware can have charm: it’s bound up with a sensibility that at best approaches wisdom, and at worst goes well beyond cynicism.

He seems to believe that the modern man is lacking in charm and that most true charmers are now over the age of 70. I cannot agree with this. I know many charming men, including my close male friends and my male relatives. However, I would have to say that there are random men out there who do not know how to treat a lady (or indeed, other men). These men burp in public, push past you and ogle you. Not charming. Perhaps they have attitudes that are not charming too. Women can be just as bad, however Schwartz’s article says that men are worse as they are more childlike than women.

When you work with someone who is NOT charming

He mentions that in order to be considered charming, you must have a degree of personal awareness. Your personality must be fairly developed and you must have an ability to read others’ emotions. I love charming people and I do not like to be around people who are not charming. There have been times in my life I have worked for people who are not charming, who are gruff, rude, bossy and bully their staff. Some people can work in this type of environment, or even thrive under that sort of pressure. I cannot. Bad manners and non-charmers make me shut down and stop trying.

Put the spotlight onto others

One of my fave bloggers, Penelope Trunk has written a great post about being enchanting. One thing she mentions is that in order to be charming, you need to make the other person more important than you. So often in life we are so busy ‘tooting our own trumpets’ that we forget to listen to the other person. I am often guilty of this.

There is a great quote from Dylan Thomas: Dylan talked copiously, then stopped. ‘Somebody’s boring me,’ he said, ‘I think it’s me.’

I hate to admit it – but often I am so concerned with being charming that I forget that it’s most charming to listen to other people and not interrupt with your opinions every two seconds.

The Remains of the Day

I have whinged previously about bad manners and poor etiquette. I am a huge fan of good manners and I have terrible manners myself sometimes. When I act with bad manners, I feel affected by it and I don’t like the fact that others are cursing me and thinking that I am ungracious and uncharming.

One of the best movies I have ever seen is The Remains of the Day with Emma Thomson and Anthony Hopkins. It is a frustratingly boring and lengthy movie that will make you want to poke your eyeballs out by the end, because they don’t even bloody kiss and the sexual tension between them is really annoying to watch.

this is a movie poster for Remains of the Day

Charm, manners and social restraint

He is an English butler, she is a housekeeper in a stately home.

To quote the Remains of the Day wiki entry (on the book, not the movie) “The most important aspect of Stevens’s life is his dignity as an English butler. Such aspects of refined dignity, especially when applied under stressful situations, are, to Stevens, what define a “great butler”. As such, Stevens constantly maintains an inward and outward sense of dignity in order to preserve his own identity.”

Interestingly, the novel is written by Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese born-English novelist so I can understand why he would be so concerned with manners, dignity, social levels of interaction and restraint.

Manners and charm go hand in hand. To quote Clarence Thomas, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”


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