Transcript: Olivia Fox Cabane Debunks Charisma at Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner

Now, most of the time, the elements you’re missing don’t matter. And the picture you get is fairly useful. But sometimes, our mind gives us a highly distorted view of reality. That’s when you get distorted thinking. And just like an optical illusion tricks our eyes into seeing things that aren’t real, distorted thinking tricks our mind into being certain that an inaccurate thought is true. So that’s detaching.

Some cognitive scientists recommend seeing these negative thoughts just as we would graffiti on a wall. When you’re walking down a street and you see a graffiti, you might decide that it’s an ugly sight, but you don’t take that to mean that you are an ugly person. When you’re meandering around the maze of your mind, if you encounter an ugly thought, try to see it as just graffiti on a wall.

Detaching was step two of the dismantling process, after destigmatizing. Step three is learning how to rewrite reality. And since it’s actually the key tool for warmth, we’re going to see it under the warmth section.

Warmth, simply put, is how much someone gives us the impression that they like us. Warmth tells us whether someone would be inclined to use whatever power they have in our favor. We perceive warmth almost entirely through body language and behavior. It’s evaluated even more directly than power.


The important thing to know about warmth is that you cannot fake it. Because warmth is so closely tied to body language, and there is far too much body language for us to control consciously.


Were you aware of your eyelids fluttering in front of your eyes right now? How about the weight of your tongue in your mouth? How about the position of your feet? Have you forgotten your eyelids again? We cannot control our body language consciously because every moment there are thousands of units of information pouring out, which is why great actors were exhausted after great performances as they were trying so hard to bring this entire flow into congruence. And even with years of training, it’s often impossible to get it absolutely perfect.

Because if what you’re feeling inside is different from what you’re trying to portray, sooner or later what’s called a micro-expression is going to flash and people will catch that. It will give them on a gut level the feeling of an incongruence, something that doesn’t quite fit, maybe something inauthentic.


So what did Hollywood do? What new form of acting did they come up with? Method acting. What’s method acting? Feeling what you’re portraying. You actually become the character. You want to truly feel what you want to portray. Essentially you don’t try to control the output, the body language. You go straight to the input, the mind.


Close your eyes for a second. Imagine a lemon. Cut the lemon in half. Suck on the lemon juice. Now imagine dragging your fingernails across the chalkboard. Open your eyes. There was no lemon. There was no chalkboard. And yet for many of you, it produced very real physical reactions in response to a completely imaginary event.


Why did this happen? Because our brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality. How many of you have already been scared watching a scary movie? Raise your hand. Consciously you knew that it was just a movie, right? You knew that those were just well paid actors up there, who were delighted to look like they’re getting murdered in exchange for a couple of million dollars. But subconsciously your brain sees blood and guts on the screen, it sends you straight into fight or flight mode, adrenaline rushing through your system. In medicine this is called the placebo effect. And you’re going to get the chance to try it out for yourselves.

So, right now could you please find someone in the room that you do not like? I’m kidding. Turn towards your neighbor, find a neighbor, turn towards them and look closely at their eyes, stay silent. Look closely at their eyes. All right, when you’re ready, close your eyes. Close your eyes, ladies and gentlemen. I want you to think of a problem at work. Something annoying, irritating, something of which the outcome is uncertain, something embarrassing, something potentially harmful. Really get into the feelings of that problem. Now open your eyes. Look at each other.


All right. Close your eyes. Close your eyes again. Think of someone you have great affection for. This could be a human being, this could be a pet, this could even be a stuffed animal. And try to get really into those feelings of affection. How much they mean to you and the affection you have for them. Feel into the warmth, feel into this tenderness. Get into these feelings as much as you can. Now open your eyes and look at each other.


I promise you will get a chance to talk to your new best friends afterwards. Where did you see the biggest difference? You saw a difference in their face, right? Where did you see the biggest difference? In the eyes. The eyes. What are the eyes? How many of you are thinking of the windows to the soul? Absolutely true, because the area around the eyes is the most mobile of the entire human face and therefore the most expressive, which is why poker players wear sunglasses. And why shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis also used to wear sunglasses when he was negotiating contracts. So that his opponents could not know what he was thinking.

When two human beings look deeply into one another’s eyes, what happens? Love, yes. When two human beings look deeply into one another’s eyes, there is an adrenaline like substance called phenylethylamine or PEA that goes gushing through your bloodstream and theirs. It is the same substance that produces the phenomenon we call love at first sight. You want that substance.

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By Pangambam S

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