The 1 Persuasion Tool You Already Possess

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I honestly believe we all possess the gifts required to achieve pretty much anything we want as actors, and in life in general. Whether it’s a matter of removing the blocks that are preventing us from naturally accessing these gifts, or else erecting simple behavioral guideposts, everything we need is already in our possession.

One of the simplest and most effective of these gifts we all have within us is charm.

You can get almost anything you want or need in acting, auditions, and life using charm, and it’s not only Hugh Jackman who has it. You do, too.

Before I tell you how to coax it out, let me tell you what charm is not. Charm is not smarm. Charm is not sleaziness, creepiness, arrogance, or even seductiveness. Charm is confidence with a dash of cheekiness. Stars have charm. Forest Whitaker has it. Michael Fassbender has it. Lucy Liu has it. Charm is a secret you keep which says, “Regardless of how badly I want this role/job/relationship, I’d ultimately be perfectly fine without it.”

Charm is not an implied threat that you’re going to steal my left kidney while I’m sleeping, or the secret that you’ve hired a hit man who currently has the red dot of his laser trained on my forehead (both interesting choices for your character, by the way). Charm is the beguiling smile you have behind your eyes when you’re enjoying yourself a great deal but don’t want everyone else to know it. It’s loving who you are and where you’re at, but stopping just shy of concealing it entirely.

Try this right now: Smile…ever so slightly. Let your eyes join in until you feel you possess a pleasing secret. Now relax your mouth but let your eyes keep “smiling.”

Boom. That’s charm. You’ve got it. Everyone does. We just don’t take it out for a walk enough.

Charm, incidentally, has nothing to do with conventional attitudes of “attractiveness.” Steve Buscemi has charm. Linda Hunt has charm. Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump have charm, and many professional models do not. Regardless of your definition of pretty, handsome, sexy, or hot, everyone has the capacity to use charm in his or her everyday life.

Not only will charm help you with auditions, it will help you on dates, in dealing with airline staff when your plane is delayed and you need a new flight or upgrade, and even when your mechanic tells you that your new radiator is going to cost $3,000. Heck, it even works with interactions on the phone! Ignite the pilot light behind the eyes and say, “Is there anything you can you do to bring that price down a bit?” then stand back and see what happens. I swear to you that nine times out of 10, you’ll notice a palpable difference in your interactions with people. But in the event that charm fails to yield the desired result, use charm again to land gracefully and with humor.

Charm is your new best friend, but she’s been with you all along. She wants to dress up, meet people, and help you lead a less resistant, more enjoyable existence. Remember though, charm always wants a win-win for both sides of any relationship and negotiation. This is the reason charm has nothing to do with flirtation, smarminess, or intimidation. When charm comes out to play, everybody wins. Give charm a try with the next person you encounter during the day. When they ask what’s going on, you know it's working.

Dial it up or dial it back, but master your natural ability to charm the socks off everyone you meet. It’s not manipulation, it’s making yourself and the people around you happier and more at ease everywhere you go, and nothing could be more natural (or necessary) in this world today. I wouldn’t be surprised if it also lowers your blood pressure and make your skin glow!

You want to do it, you can to do it, so do it.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Paul Barry
Paul Barry is an L.A.-based Australian acting teacher, author of “Choices,” and a Backstage Expert. Barry runs on-camera classes in Santa Monica as well as online worldwide and conducts a six-week program called Dreaming for a Living, coaching actors, writers, and filmmakers in how to generate online incomes to support their art.
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