All Charisma and No Confidence

I have signed up for some training courses offered at work, one of them is called “How to present with confidence”. Yes, at 40+, I still struggle with opening my mouth in front of a group larger than 5. It’s a miracle that I even survived this many years in corporate America. Someone overheard me and commented, “Is this the same as the course ‘How to present with charisma?'” “Nope. I am not qualified to take the charisma class,” I joked.  I then made everybody laugh when I said, “Actually, I am all charisma and no confidence.”

I thought about this throwaway punchline on my 2-hour flight back home. (I am trying to read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and unfortunately my brains seem to want to think of anything else but focusing on that book…) We were laughing because it is impossible, right? to have charisma when one does not have any confidence. Doesn’t charisma come from a surplus of self-confidence?

However, deep down I knew I was kidding on the square when I threw out this line. I have been known to be charming on many occasions, but I never ever feel truly confident.

Is it possible to fake confidence and/or charisma? And if you fake it, is it still confidence / charisma or is it something else altogether? Could it be possible that charisma sometimes comes from one’s unawareness, unassumingness, and humility? Something more akin to quiet grace?

But of course, I already know this definition of charisma is, at best, marginal, if not considered outright incorrect, in a course titled “How to Present with Charisma” and the business world that propagate such courses.

Head. Desk.

I am unrepentant though, and probably will continue to be even after taking the “confidence” training. And I will continue to smile at the thought that I am all charisma and no confidence. Secretly, of course.


Article by Absence Alternatives

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • dufmanno August 31, 2012, 5:54 am

    Confidence comes and goes fleetingly depending on who you are and what you are doing but CHARISMA? Charisma is something you are born with, and you have it by the truckload. It’s that certain something you can’t put your finger on that draws you to a person. You can’t help but be seduced by whatever characteristics are so wildly appealing and you want to be around them. That, my friend, is you.
    Confidence is overrated.I’ve had to fake so many “confident” moments so I did’t look like a bumbling, inept ding dong that I no longer care about being fully confident. I don’t think it’s a natural state, just one we force upon ourselves so we don’t appear weak- apparently weakness is some sort of sin:)
    dufmanno´s last blog post…Thor Jesus

  • Alexandra September 1, 2012, 12:15 am

    Oh, you are so cute.

    And so endearing.

    WHAT A TRANSPARENT HEART and a love you are.


    • Absence Alternatives September 1, 2012, 10:38 am

      That’s the problem I think with me for most people, too transparent. When I was a kid, I was often reprimanded for it, for showing my displeasure because it’s impolite. On two separate occasions a random guy gasped, “Oh girl, you wear your heart on your sleeves!” after talking to me for less than ten minutes. ZOMG. Could be scary sometimes to some people I guess. But I am unrepentant! 😉

  • Jotter Girl September 1, 2012, 11:24 am

    In my opinion, true charisma is a gift and something that cannot be faked. Example: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from the Jersey Shore. While he thinks he has charisma, the rest of us see right through him as a buffoon.

    Confidence on the other hand can be faked and is much less easily detected.
    Jotter Girl´s last blog post…30 Second Story…….Appropriate tea party attire

    • Absence Alternatives September 2, 2012, 10:27 pm

      Maybe it works this way, like Rodeo Drive, if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it, so if you think you have it, then you don’t.

  • Unknown Mami September 2, 2012, 1:15 pm

    I think you can fake confidence, but not charisma.
    Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Wallspace SF (Sundays In My City)

  • Naptimewriting September 3, 2012, 12:38 am

    Consolation? Franzen’s characters have (some) confidence but no charisma.
    So you’re nothing at all like them!
    Naptimewriting´s last blog post…First day of First Grade

    • Naptimewriting September 12, 2012, 2:01 pm

      Key phrase missing from that comment: “they have a modicum of confidence but, *unlike you*, no charisma.” I meant that you’re delightful and they’re almost universally insufferable. I still like the book, but I hate the characters. You, I adore.
      Naptimewriting´s last blog post…A Whole New World

      • Absence Alternatives September 15, 2012, 11:56 pm

        Thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it. xo

        I am half way through the book (thanks to Kindle I could see how far I am… 49%…) and I still want to kick everybody on their knees.

  • Velva September 5, 2012, 7:47 pm

    Confidence is something you learn. Charisma is a disposition. You can fake confidence, you can’t fake charisma.

    You my friend have both confidence (even if you don’t think you do, and you have charisma)

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect.

    Velva´s last blog post…Wordless Wednesday

  • dufmanno September 6, 2012, 11:08 am

    Also, STILL waiting to push Franzen down and stomp on those glasses. It’s not the glasses, it’s just him. I’ve never wanted to hurt Woody Allen.
    dufmanno´s last blog post…Thor Jesus

  • BigLittleWolf September 7, 2012, 4:38 pm

    You do make me chuckle…

    I think there are many charismatic people who are not confident. I also believe we can be confident in some arenas and not in others. (All the more reason that we gravitate toward those pursuits in which we feel confident in our abilities?)

    As for public speaking more comfortably, it can be learned. Just don’t attend the Eastwood School of Speech Making. Just sayin’…
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…Reckoning With Stress and Mess (My Therapy is Rhyme)

  • Jack September 8, 2012, 1:37 am

    You can always fake confidence with ease, but charisma doesn’t work that way. However I would say that acting confident will help you appear to be more charismatic to others.
    Jack´s last blog post…Indiana Jones Meets Han Solo Meets The iPhone

  • Stacey September 8, 2012, 8:08 pm

    “All charisma and no confidence.” I like that. I honestly wonder how many people truly feel confident. Maybe everyone is faking.
    Stacey´s last blog post…True Colors

    • Absence Alternatives September 9, 2012, 11:37 pm

      I sometimes do try to tell myself that others are faking confidence too. I guess I wish it were true.

  • Ameena September 10, 2012, 10:09 pm

    I think I fake confidence pretty well…but I really have none. I need constant approval and confirmation that I am doing the right thing and making good decisions. It’s terrible.
    Ameena´s last blog post…what happens…

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