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Charisma and self-confidence: how it works Charisma and self-confidence: how it works
by Joseph Gatt
2021-11-18 08:55:42
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A lot of the theory you'll read out there goes: charisma and self-confidence are built by controlling your emotions and leading a healthy lifestyle. And lots of introspection.

Truth of the matter is, I see things differently. Simply put, I would tend to think that the more people you know, the more people you know at the deeper level, and the more stuff you can discuss with that crowd, the more likely you'll naturally be charismatic and self-confident.

selc0001_400So, the recipe goes like this. Charisma and self-confidence are not gained overnight, but built over several years. You get a job, join different social circles, get to know people at the job and at the social circles. The more people you know, the more stuff you know, the more comfortable you'll tend to be.

Charisma and self-confidence is also gained through trial and error. You could end up at the wrong conference, at the wrong job, or at the wrong social event. Happens all the time. And those one-time events could break your self-confidence, which is why it's a good idea to have a crowd you can rely on in the long run.

Let's just use this as an example. In 2013 and 2014 I had an active social life, which is really where I went through the trial and error phase of socializing and gaining self-confidence. So I'll use a few personal examples.

So there were the student conferences. Those were a great breeding ground for my self-confidence and charisma. Because most students tended to be clueless on how to go about their careers, but I had experience working as a professor. So there was a ton of stuff I could teach those students, from getting letters of recommendation to looking for academic jobs (what websites they should look into, for example), to the different types of academic jobs they could get, to how to write papers, to how to go about research and write a decent thesis and dissertation. So I was a useful guy, plus, students tend to be easy to work with. The student crowd tends to be a shy, humble crowd, thirsty for advice.

Then there were the teacher conferences. Teaching is an egalitarian profession (or tends to be) with no promotions, and most teachers have job security. Plus teaching jobs are plenty and easy to find. So no pressure, no competition. Those who want to shine, they shine. Those who wanted to share donuts or sushi instead of attending talks at conferences; they were welcome to do so. Those who wanted to present and give talks or workshops were always welcome. And there were those teachers who only attended conferences because they wanted to meet their friends.

Either way, both at teacher and student conferences, the idea was I would peak into the social media profiles of those who attended regularly, and the more I went to those conferences, the better I got along with the crowd.

Note that social media is complicated turf. A lot of students and teachers are going to complain about the “hell” they're going through. But then you meet them at conferences and they tell you that “life's great!” I was tempted to tell them that it's OK, we're all starving, we all have no idea where our careers are headed, we're not sure how to pay our rent, but students and teachers did not want to discuss that in person. They'd rather discuss that on social media, and I understand.

Then you had the history conferences. Oh. My. God. Guys. Historians are not scientists. They are activists. The worst kind of activists. Each time I'd present a history paper I'd get destroyed by the crowd. An angry, competitive crowd. And if you spend too much time with those guys, your charisma and self-confidence will take a huge blow. So I did away with that crowd.

Then you had the science conferences and I called those places “Zombie Land” because a lot of those who attended looked exhausted, looked like they were doing too much research, and it seemed as though they had no idea where their research was going. Nor did they ask for any advice. And it's hyper-competitive out there. So I did away with those conferences as well, to avoid losing self-confidence.

Then you had newspaper conferences that are newspapers who invite scientists to give talks so they can write about science in their newspapers. Very formal. Lots of important guests (politicians, famous people). Impeccable suits tend to be mandatory. Speech is heavily controlled. And the goal tends to be politicians, businessmen and celebrities networking with scientists, but it tends to be a very formal environment. But, if your scientific research is interesting enough, you'll hang out with that crowd.

So, the end goal is, you want to put yourself in a position where you no longer need to out-compete people and that you can start helping people instead. And that's when charisma and self-confidence naturally follows you everywhere you go.

But charisma and self-confidence probably isn't the ability to stay calm and control your emotions and stay focused. Because those are things you gain over time, by interacting with society over a long period of time. Of course, by society, I mean a crowd that suits you and fits you.

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