When you're out at the bar with friends, why is it that some men seem to attract women with seemingly no effort? How does the top producer manage to close six-figure deals when he's never at the office? How do some couples build new social circles ...
Jay Kim , Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
When you’re out at the bar with friends, why is it that some men seem to attract women with seemingly no effort? How does the top producer manage to close six-figure deals when he’s never at the office? How do some couples build new social circles wherever they go, while you’re struggling to make friends after moving to a new city?
If you ask Jordan Harbinger, the answer is charm. Harbinger, along with his business partner AJ Harbinger, founded the Art of Charm, one of the leading programs teaching social interaction. In addition to a hugely popular podcast—one of the first to gain a mass audience—the Art of Charm offers in-person training, free courses, and a bootcamp that empowers people in their personal lives and in business.
In studying the intricacies of human interaction, and what makes us like and dislike others instinctually, Harbinger discovered a heap of outdated notions and beliefs. On Wall Street, he says, closing deals doesn’t come from having a firm handshake. The old adage that we do business with people we “know, like, and trust” is accurate, but the reasons we like and trust people are different than what we might expect.
“In order to teach people real magnetism, it’s not about tricks or gimmicks,” Harbinger explained. “It doesn’t matter if you remember that someone’s daughter is taking tennis lessons, because that’s not a real interaction. It can be handy if you need average level social skills. But if you’re competing for multi-million-dollar deals, it takes more than a firm handshake and good eye contact, especially if you’re not a trained salesperson.”
Learning to charm is a subtractive process
The key is getting people to like you more than they like someone else, which, despite popular belief, is not an additive process. As you learn from the Art of Charm, improving your level of social interaction is a subtractive process. You take away the insecure behavior and all the bad habits you’ve developed throughout life. By peeling away those unappealing layers, you can truly improve your interactions with other people.
“When we’re working with people, we might tell them that they’re leaning in too close when they talk to people,” Harbinger offered. “It’s breaking their psychological space and making them uncomfortable. “You don’t want to start interactions that way. We look for reasons others may not want to be around our clients, stuff they may be doing unconsciously that is affecting their ability to develop relationships. Most people have a hard time articulating what makes them uncomfortable, so nobody is going to tell you that you’re breaking their psychological space in a way that’s unsettling.”
Even if a business mentor or close friend pointed these flaws out to you, they’re likely not equipped in the way a coach is to replace that bad habit with a good habit. That’s the only way to get rid of bad habits: replacing them with better ones.
This process is important because charm helps in every area of life, from relationships to business to making new friends. Single or divorced men are hungry to improve their magnetism, Harbinger says, but there’s a lot of overlap in that skill set with what people need when they move to a new city and are looking to make friends.
“If you’re a single guy, you want to know how to meet cool women in your town and have an active dating life,” he said. “But if you’re married and you move with your wife, you’re looking to create a strong social circle in your new home. It’s the same with sales. If you sell a $200,000 software product, how can you generate enough trust with potential clients for them to entertain the notion of buying from you? The differences between persuasion and influence in these areas are trivial.”
The future of podcasts
In addition to understanding social interaction, Harbinger also knows a thing or two about podcasting. He was on the podcast scene before there was a scene. He’s watched the landscape evolve the past decade and has ideas for where it’s going.
“In the United States, we’ve reached 65% awareness of podcasting, but only 15% consumption,” Harbinger said. “That’s going to change when people who listen to the radio in the car have internet-connected vehicles, which will basically be every car over the next decade. When we’re all in self-driving cars, what will we do to pass the time? Movies make some people dizzy, but you could lay back and listen to a podcast.”
Consumption will also increase as podcasts become more popular in areas like Australia and Asia, where it’s not taken off like it has in the U.S Harbinger likens it to analog TV, which you used to get in the U.S. but can’t anymore, or the bygone days of getting a VHS tape from the local Blockbuster. Digital TV signals and Netflix made those options obsolete, and the same will one day be true of terrestrial radio.
“We’ll reach the point where everything we consume is on the internet, whether it’s YouTube videos or podcasts,” Harbinger predicted. “You’ll see consumption go up, not to where 100% of people are listening, but close to the number of people who listen to the radio now. We love listening to something while we’re doing something else.”
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