They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
-- LOU HOLTZ
Psychologists tell us that the core of personality is self-esteem. This has best been defined as "how much you like yourself." Your self-esteem is the sum total of how important and valuable you feel you are at any moment. Human beings are intensely emotional. They make decisions emotionally and then justify them logically. People are powerfully affected by their emotional environment, especially the behavior of other people toward them.
From infancy, you are conditioned to be hypersensitive to the actions and reactions of your parents toward you. Often, the dynamics of these early exchanges set you up for life in your relationships with others.
Almost everything you do involving others is either to bolster your self-esteem, your inner sense of well-being, or to protect it from being diminished by other people or circumstances.
The deepest craving of human nature is the need to feel valued and valuable. The secret of charm is therefore simple: make others feel important.
The more important you make people feel in your presence, the more charming they will perceive you to be. Fortunately, we know how to make people feel wonderful about themselves. These key behaviors can be summarized in the five As: acceptance, appreciation, approval, admiration, and attention.
1. Acceptance. The greatest gift that you can give other people is the attitude of "unconditional positive regard." That is, you accept them in their entirety, without limitation. You never criticize or find fault. You are totally accepting of everything about them, as if they were a miracle of nature. This is the starting point of being charming.
And how do you express complete acceptance? It is simple. You smile! When you smile with happiness at seeing people, their self-esteem jumps automatically. They feel happy about themselves. They feel important and valuable. And they like the person who is making them feel this way. They find you to be charming, even before you open your mouth.
2. Appreciation. Whenever you express appreciation to others for something they have done, small or large, their self-esteem increases. They feel more valuable and important. They feel more competent and capable. Their self-image improves and their self-respect soars.
And how do you trigger this wonderful feeing in others? It is simple. You say "thank you" on every occasion, for any large or small reason. You make a habit of thanking everyone in your world for everything they do. Thank your secretary for her work. Thank your spouse for his help. Thank your children for anything they do that you appreciate.
Here is the double payoff: Whenever you smile or say thank you to another person, not only does that person's self-esteem and feeling of importance jump, but so does yours. You actually like yourself more every time you do or say anything that causes other people to like themselves more.
And the more you like yourself, the more you will genuinely like and care about others. The more you like yourself, the less concerned you will be about whether you are making a good impression, and the more naturally charming you will become.
3. Approval. It is said that "babies cry for it, men die for it." Throughout life, all humans have a deep subconscious need for approval of their actions and accomplishments. No amount of approval ever satisfies for long. The need is ongoing, like the need for food and rest. People who continually seek opportunities to express approval are welcome wherever they go.
Perhaps the best definition of approval is "praise." This subject is so important that we will come back to it later. Just remember, whenever you praise other people for something they have done, their self-esteem is elevated. They feel wonderful about themselves. And they find you to be more interesting, perceptive, highly likable, and extremely charming.
4. Admiration. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Everybody likes a compliment." When you give people a genuine, sincere compliment about a trait, possession, or accomplishment, they automatically feel better about themselves. They feel acknowledged and recognized. They feel valuable and important. They like themselves more, and they like you more.
Compliment a person on an article of clothing. Compliment someone on a trait, like punctuality or persistence. Compliment the person on having won an award or achieved a goal. Compliment for small things as well as large. Always be looking for something to compliment, and each time you find something, the other person will like you more and find you to be charming.
5. Attention. This is perhaps the most important quality of all, and will be the subject of several subsequent chapters. It is the most powerful behavior for building self-esteem and is the key to instant charm. When you pay close attention to other people, the more valuable and important they will feel they are, and the more they will like you.
These are the five most powerful self-esteem building tools ever discovered. As you master them through practice, you will become one of the most charming and influential people in your social and professional circle.
The next time you meet your significant other or even someone you work with, conduct this exercise: Imagine that when you were young, you had a dear friend with whom you shared many of the important emotional experiences of your young life. But years passed and you lost touch. You had no idea where your friend had gone.
One day, when you are walking down the street, or maybe you are at a social function, suddenly there he is! You are shocked, amazed, overwhelmed with a flood of memories and affection. Your whole face lights up and all you can think is, "It's you!"
Wow! You are so happy to see this person. You feel excited and delighted and grateful and emotional all at the same time.
Now, the next time you meet a person or persons who are important to you, especially loved ones or dear friends, create this same feeling and act as if you are rediscovering them after a too-long absence, as if you were declaring, "There you are!" Treat these special people as if seeing them makes you incredibly happy. Smile and beam at them. Focus all your attention on them. Treat them as if they were the most important person in the world at this moment. No matter who they are, they will think that you are an incredibly charming person.