Charm is NOT the Power

Whenever a client asks me about books on communication, I’m quick to recommend Thank You for Arguing and You Just Don’t Understand. Well now, I have another title to add to the list: F*ck Love by Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett.

But this time, I want to do a better job of detailing what I hope you get out of it. Just like with movies and music, not everyone picks up the same meaning and impact from literature. I feel like I’m in the minority sometimes when it comes to gleaning from reading. (I’ve yet to find anyone who actually talks about the ending to Tokyo Vice or Arnold’s real purpose for writing Total Recall).

This book is a great read, and I’d hate for you to just be like “Oh, interesting” after you finish. In this post, let’s tackle Chapter 1: F*ck Charisma.

Pre-reading Predisposition

When it comes to discussing charm, I’ve been pretty frank on how jealous I’ve been. Some guys seem to have all the luck making the girls swoon. Sometimes it makes sense (hey, Robert Downey Jr. is a pretty charming guy). Sometimes it’s pretty damn frustrating (i.e. white guy swag in Japan).

Actually, let me rephrase that. “Frustrating” isn’t the right word. I was fucking bitter.

But eventually I learned that, charm has its limits. Charisma is not depth. And if there’s people who want to be swept away by the superficial, no foul on them. It is me who be the dumbass for involving myself with such people (i.e. girls).

But After Reading…

This chapter does a really good job of flipping perspectives. Before, I had to make peace with what I might lack, and over time I’ve been able to keep any fit of envy on low. And that’s always been pretty easy logic to follow: you don’t have X, so you want X.

But when you do have X– in this case, charisma– what do you lose out on?

As the Bennetts point out, you lose sense of scope and power. When your charm naturally pulls things in your direction, you can think you’re capable of more than you are. Confidence is cool, but the reality is some folks just won’t ever click with you. You really can’t win over everybody. If you’re conditioned to think you can, you’ll wind up wasting energy and effort trying to pull in people who aren’t worth your time.

So on both ends of the spectrum –charmful/charmless– you can end up wasting time. Limited perspective be damned.

Chapter Highlights

“Charisma often misleads people into thinking that they have more control over relationships than they do, distracts them from examining character factors that determine whether a relationship is safe or dangerous, and burdens them with an unreasonable sense of responsibility for the feelings of others. So if you don’t keep those risks in mind, you may end up going into emotional debt.”

“Unless you’re in love with your charisma, you may well feel an obligation to offer something in return for this attention, such as not disappointing all those people who are unlucky enough to be drawn to your gift/curse. Unfortunately, making yourself available to admirers can’t create a real, lasting relationship…”

Closing Thoughts / TL;DR

  • Charisma is powerful
  • Charisma is not the end all be all power
  • Because charisma is so envied and desirable, people overestimate what it can actually do
  • I want something else, to get me through this, semi-charmed kind of life

These write ups are not meant to be a substitute for reading the book. Seriously, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t check out Michael I. Bennett, MD and Sarah Bennett’s work, so do yourself a favor and check out a copy.

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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