Close up of Keanu Reeves looking at the camera.

The Secret to Being a Charming Introvert: ‘Reversals’

Jessica Stillman


If you’re not sure introverts can be charismatic, then I have two words for you, and those two words are “Keanu Reeves.” Not as irrationally obsessed with Point Break as I am? Then how about Barack Obama? Or Michael Jordan? Or Meryl Streep? Or Jimi Hendrix? Or most grunge era rock stars?

There are plenty of quieter types who know how to cast a spell when they want to. What’s their secret?

Magnetic introverts are as diverse as magnetic extroverts, and as such their strategies are as varied as they are. But authenticity, self possession, and passion seem to play a major role in the magnetism of each of them. The first step to getting other people to like you is to like yourself enough to actually be yourself around other people.

But while there is no single recipe for introvert charm, there are a few handy techniques you can arm yourself with as you work out your own particular brand of charisma.

Deflect the spotlight to boost your charisma

One of the most useful ones I’ve read recently comes via writer Barry Davret. The technique he recommends is called reversals and it builds on a widely accepted principle of likability — people tend to be charmed by people who are genuinely interested in them.

That’s why speaking coaches instruct speakers to focus on serving the audience to boost their impact, and why actors learn to focus on their scene partners rather than themselves. We are all calmer and more charming when we’re focused on other people rather than our own performance.

Which actually gives introverts a leg up when it comes to charm. We might not be naturally gifted at spinning stories on the spot, revealing ourselves publicly, or pushy persuasion techniques, but most of us are good listeners. Much of Davret’s advice boils down to leaning into the role of engaged conversation partner and deflecting interest from yourself back to the person you’re trying to charm. Reversals are a great way to accomplish that.

“A reversal is a brief statement or question designed to keep the focus on the other person,” Davret writes. “Think of it as a game of ping pong where one player does just enough to keep the rally going. It allows you to…



Jessica Stillman

Top columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast.