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By Tony Alessandra, Ph.D.
ISBN: 0446675989
Genre: Inspirational & Self-Help

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Chapter Excerpt from: Charisma , by Tony Alessandra, Ph.D.



• You walk into a room and soon notice an animated conversation among a knot of several people. You're attracted to their energy and start to join them. Then you see that one fellow has already turned and is now talking to someone else. The original group drifts apart, and that one man again quickly becomes the center of yet another high-energy group. On and on, throughout the evening, you watch him effortlessly pull others to him like moths to a flame.

What is it about this man that attracts others so readily? How, without seeming to try, does he always end up as the center of attention?

• Or, at work, two managers with equal training and experience are put in charge of similar group tasks. But the results differ drastically. One task force flounders and misses a critical deadline. The other quickly meshes as a team and produces a report so stunning that the breadth, depth' and clarity of its ideas has everyone talking.

Why does one manager succeed, while her colleague fails to connect with his people? Why does one need to check and recheck his subordinates' work constantly, while the other manager just points her people in the right direction and they take off?

Those successful people aren't just lucky. What the engaging conversationalist and the superbly effective manager have in common is enormous charisma. But this is not an effortless gift from the gods, not necessarily something they were born with.

Instead, it's a constellation of social skills, or tools. Collectively, these qualities are sometimes also referred to as personal magnetism. You may not know it, but those qualities, those tools, are within you, too, just waiting to be developed, to be honed.

And the wonderful thing about using these skills is that they make you powerful without making others less so. That's because the kind of power I'm talking about is interpersonal influence-not the power of potentates, or generals, or other autocrats to order things to happen. Instead, I'm talking about the power to be effective with people. I'm talking about acquisition of power through interpersonal means, appropriate means, means that don't take power away from others but give you and them the power to achieve favorable outcomes.


But, on the other hand, nothing good comes easily. And while you have latent charisma, developing it isn't automatic. You must be motivated and prepared to spend the time and make the effort to sharpen your skills.

I've spent years studying why and how some people are viewed as more charismatic than others. This book, using examples both famous and obscure, will explain and illustrate what I believe are the most common skills of charismatic people. More important, I'm going to give you many, many suggestions on ways to develop your charisma.

First, we'll explore charisma as a whole. What are its basic ingredients? Where does the concept come from? Why is there so much confusion about it?

Then, before getting into the skills themselves, we'll speculate on why charisma is more important now than ever before. You'll see how true personal magnetism emanates from within you, not from your title or whether you have a corner office, not from the size of your desk or the size of your salary.

Of course, to have great personal magnetism, you must be an able communicator. How to improve your skills in:

• Speaking

• Listening

• Persuading

• Adapting to others

But communication is more than just what you say or how you say it. We communicate in many less obvious ways, too. You'll also learn how to:

• Send out the best "silent message," or image

• Use space and time to your advantage

• Expand your vision and ideas

In addition to the many suggestions and examples, you'll find at the end of each chapter another ten ideas for "jump-starting" that particular skill. And, finally, "A Last Nudge toward Being the Best You Can Be," will offer yet another ten specific ways you can maximize your charisma.

Throughout the book, you'll also be urged to get other people to tell you what they think about you. That's because there's often a gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us. You might, for example, give yourself a fairly low mark as a speaker because you know you're nervous when you give a talk. On the other hand, your audience might think you're a fine presenter. (Of course, there's always the possibility of the opposite, too: You might think you're terrific, while most everyone thinks you're a bore!)

It will be important that you ask others for feedback. And those need to be the right people, people whotll tell you the truth. You'll be looking for feedback that will add to, you might say, a 360-degree picture of yourself. So you'll need to ask for feedback from those who know you at work, at home, on the tennis court, or wherever you're mingling with others. Make sure each individual is not only candid, but also familiar with your behavior in that situation. For instance, you wouldn't ask your mother about your speaking ability in a business meeting, unless she were on the board of directors-and maybe not even then!

In short, this is a book designed to maximize your effectiveness, whether you're a CEO or a clerk, an engineer or an apprentice. We all need these skills because they help build trust and commitment. And trust and commitment are the bedrock of every successful endeavor. Without them, organizations don't function well, coalitions don't get built, collaborations don't occur, opinions and attitudes don't get changed, and careers rarely take off.

In any case, welcome aboard! Whatever your current level of charisma, if you'd really like to improve it, you've come to the right place.

Excerpted from Charisma , by Tony Alessandra, Ph.D. . Copyright (c) 1998 by Tony Alessandra, Ph.D. . Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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