Transcript: Olivia Fox Cabane Debunks Charisma at Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner

Olivia Fox Cabane: How do you reconcile being authentic with learning charisma? So, if you recall back to the exercises we did, what we were doing was not controlling the body language, but controlling your mind, yes? And, what I am trying to get you to do is to truly, authentically feel internally the emotions that you want to portray. The other way that I can tell you is am I being inauthentic by speaking English with you right now?

Audience: So, what’s your mother tongue?

Olivia Fox Cabane: Aha, exactly! English is not my mother tongue. My mother tongue is French. However, I am choosing to use a language that’s going to hopefully get the message across in the best way. Charisma is a language in that same manner and it’s choosing to use the tools which will make your message most effective. Hope this helps. Yes?

Audience: So, I’ve read the book entitled ‘The Harvard Negotiation Project’


Olivia Fox Cabane: Yes.


Audience: And one of the tactics they mention in helping even the playing field is acknowledging openly what the opponent or your negotiating partner is doing. So, you can — if they sit you in a small chair and put a light on you, you acknowledge that and it shuts down the effect.


Olivia Fox Cabane: Naming the elephants in the room.

Audience: So, if you — if someone is being charismatic, you know they’re trying to manipulate you, if you acknowledge that.


Olivia Fox Cabane: Name the charisma, that’s a brilliant way of handling it. Absolutely, very good point. So, The Harvard Negotiation Project which came out with fantastic stuff amongst which the book Difficult Conversations which I highly recommend, one of the outcomes of that was that naming a dynamic often eases that dynamic and makes it less powerful. So, in this case if you — if — if you are certain that someone is intentionally using charisma to manipulate you, naming it can lessen the situation. In the same way, vulnerability can be a wonderful power tool in creating emotional bonds, naming situation, and diffusing it. I think we have time for one more question? One more question, whichever it might be. Yes?


Audience: Can your powerful presence conflict with your portrayal of warmth?


Olivia Fox Cabane: Can your powerful presence conflict with your portrayal of warmth? You can actually portray both of them at the same time. So, it gets really interesting because a lot of the power comes through your stance and your posture and your poise. So, one quick thing to check if you want to be emanating power is how much and how rapidly you are nodding. Too often people who are feeling insecure or nervous will have a lot of self-reassuring behaviors, self-touching behaviors which are seen by behavioral scientists as low-status individual trying to reassure a high status and they will also be nodding because they really want to show you that they’re really, really listening to what you’re saying so checking that. So, it’s more about having the power in your stature. The warmth comes so much, if we’re getting specific, from your eyes and your voice. That warm eyes, warm voice, it doesn’t matter how much body — powerful body language you have, it combines very well. Did I answer your question?


Yes. Awesome. Wow! Thank you.

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