Charm and Coercion

My mother used to say I would argue with a fence post if it would stand there long enough. I am fairly certain she was exaggerating. I was mildly well, in my mind it was mildly, quick to offer an opposing viewpoint when I was younger. To be honest, I just love a good debate. I can generally see more than one side to just about any issue. This makes it difficult for me to choose a side.

I was eight years old when I was given Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is basically a manual for interpersonal relationship building. My issue with this book is that it seems to be written for salespeople. Sure, you want to gain people’s trust and to get them to buy into your ideas in the workplace. The book title sounds somewhat nefarious. Am I supposed to be fake and disingenuous in order to get my way?


Once you delve into the book, you realize most of it is a handbook on how to be charming. I do not know many women who have this skill. At least there are not many women who charm me. However, I am a sucker for a charming man. There is some trick some men do. I have watched them. I am drawn in by them, even when I am trying to avoid it.

Do you know the shoulder touch? You are standing there talking to someone. You can be discussing the rain or any trivial subject, and they lean in a little closer. If they are taller than you, which most men are taller than me, they lean down and in a little, and they touch your shoulder or arm. Eye contact is paramount. They speak softly. Then you find yourself feeling a little giggly inside. It does not matter what position they hold on a subject, I find myself agreeing with them! I would fight to the death to defend their point of view. Well, maybe not to the death… but I would vehemently back them up. It is the craziest thing.

What is that magic power???? How do they do that? What part of my inner self are they speaking to? More  importantly, where do they learn that?

Sometimes I find myself wondering if they are being all charming and persuasive on purpose, or if they are just that slick all the time. Does my weakness for the arm touch mean I am a sucker? Probably.

So, what’s the point? 

There is a certain amount of charm and persuasion one must possess to be a good leader. Assholes are rarely inspiring. There seems to be a level of charisma required to actually inspire change in people. So, I find myself studying this book. It is not about specific leadership skills in a specific field, it is about how to win people’s confidence.

I have to know more about this subject. I think the best place to start is asking one of the charmers I know. I can imagine he will give me a look and refuse to answer the question, but I am going to ask anyway. Here are my questions:

  1. Do you realize you are being charming?
  2. Are you doing it on purpose?
  3. Where did you learn that?
  4. Does it require practice?
  5. Are you careful about when you choose to employ this skill?
  6. What happens when it backfires?
  7. What does that look like?
  8. I assume there are people who are immune to your charms, do you try to change tactics, or do you try to avoid those folks?
  9. Is there anything I can do for you?

See? It always ends up there. What can I do for you? Sneaky, charming men! I am mostly kidding, except I am not. I am seriously a sucker for the arm touch.

Holy Cow, Man!

I was watching Magic Mike on Sunday, and while it is certainly not a study on human behavior, I found myself marveling at the way “Male Entertainers” use charm to make their act more inviting. It is actually about giving people what they want. Of course it helps when they are seriously hot. So, here are some of my favorite pics from google…

I have to get a Rolls Royce.
Seriously, can you be better looking?
Rescue me. Please.

Joe Manganiello is a good example of a charming hot guy. There are a lot more pictures of him I like, but this is a nice selection. He is beautiful. Oh! I got distracted. I was trying to make a point. Oh, well. It seems to be gone now.

It is not only extremely good-looking people who attract me. My newest crush is Anthony Bourdain. I am not sure what it is… I mean, he is older than my mother by nearly a decade. He is certainly not unattractive, but he is no Joe. I think it could be how passionate he seems. When people are passionate about their career, I find myself drawn in. I become interested in what they are interested in. I mean, if they love it so much it must be cool.

So, forget reading books on leadership. Be nice. Find ways to engage other people. Lean in and do the arm touch. Find your passion, and share it with others. It does not seem to be that difficult. Or, if all else fails be incredibly hot and avoid acting like an ass.

PS… I can’t wait to ask some of the charming men I know these questions. I wonder if they will play along and answer them.

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