The Importance of Being Charming

Barbara Morris

Barbara Morris

My new career in real estate  requires that I interact well with clients. In other words, I need to be charming — more charming than I already am.  You may be thinking, “How can Barbara possibly be any more charming than she already is?” I’m thinking the same thing but I am always open to improvement. 🙂

To improve my “charm quotient” I need to understand that today, feelings are easily hurt if a politically incorrect  word or term is used unintentionally.  A glance, touch or movement may be perceived as inappropriate. Tone may be taken as harsh or judgmental. Look at the furor created recently when Donald Trump’s tone was considered offensive. Anchors and pundits at CNN became positively apoplectic.

So, because it appears almost everybody is offended by something, I need to learn how to deal with that new reality and be charming about it.

To start, I must stop being blunt. If you tell me something patently untrue, I must not tell you that you are full of crap because that’s not charming. Instead, I must respond to you in a warm and fuzzy way and not offend your delicate sensibilities.  If you are a male with facial hair, I must not tell you how disgusting I think it is, and I certainly can’t say you look like a scruffy old fart because that would be intolerant and judgmental. Sure, “old” people are allowed to say whatever they want to say but because I take pride in not being “old” I can’t get away with that excuse.

Furthermore, to show that I am in tune with the times, I also need to learn to use the new way of communicating (newspeak) using acronyms, abbreviations, and clichés, (not necessarily related to real estate). For example:

  • You don’t contact people, you “reach out” to them.
  • You begin every sentence with “So”, and there are no problems, just issues.
  • When you go to a doctor for a test, the result is explained in acronym-eze:  “The MRI showed you have a an OAB, UTI, and a  STD but no one will know because you are protected by HIPPA.” (It would take too much time to explain  you have a weak bladder and a urinary tract infection.  And oh, by the way, you have a sexually transmitted disease but no one will know because privacy laws (giggle giggle) insure confidentiality.
  • When conversing about current events, it’s important to understand our government doesn’t deal with intelligence, it’s “intel”. Regulations are “regs”. Our dear leader is POTUS. “The Supremes” is not a Motown musical group, but members of the SCOTUS.
  • When coming to a conclusion, you “get to the bottom line” “at the end of the day.”

So, the bottom line (cliché) is that in order to exude charm and successfully interact with others, I must be totally tolerant, nonjudgmental, flexible, and conversant in newspeak.

To help me achieve my goal,  my charming daughter, who is also my charm mentor, suggested that I read The Power of Charm by Brian Tracy and Ron Arden. I really didn’t think I needed to read it, but I read it not once but twice (it’s a quick read) and I love it! As a result,  I am becoming so insufferably  charming it could torch your tush. (A not so charming cliché)

For example, as a result of reading The Power of Charm I now tell  everyone I meet how much I appreciate them, being sure to speak slowly with a lilting quality, with a slight tilt of my head,  while gazing into their eyes. I know that sounds like something out of a schmaltzy romance novel, or a pickup attempt at a bar, but that maneuver is considered charming.  For practice, I’m using family members as guinea pigs and frankly, they are sick of it, dismissing my attempts to be charming with not so  charming directives to “get over it”, “give it up” or horror of horrors, “you are soooo full of crap”. But I don’t care; I’m going to practice until I am totally mesmerizing.

But, on second thought, at the end of the day (cliché), I don’t know — what if I don’t feel like being charming? The answer is,  if you want to get along well with others, you WILL be charming because everybody likes a charming person, even when they know (and you know) you are full of it.



  1. Sheena Burnell says

    Barbara any time I’ve dealt with you, you’ve been utterly delightful – warm, supportive and respectful – so I’m sure you’re already pretty charming! For me personally it boils down to the ancient dictum of “do unto others” and although I’m not particularly religious, I find this simple code a good way to live life. So if I wouldn’t enjoy being told to my face for expressing my opinion that I’m “full of crap”, I try not to do it to others. And if I don’t agree with someone I try to listen and find out where they’re coming from, as generally peoples’ wants, ideas, opinions etc are driven by their fears and anxieties, and as a medical professional I try to tap into that (as much as time will allow) to gain as much of a win-win (cliche alert sorry) situation as I can. And to finish, one of my favourite quotes which I also try to remember to live by: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia, author (1924-1998). I think the standout word here is honest, and this is the crux of the matter – it’s the honest caring behind our actions that people sense (Elaine alluded to this too) and it’s this I think we should be practising, a true tuning-in to other people, not necessarily charm. Just my two cents, anyway!

    • Dr. Sheena,

      How wonderful to hear from you! And thank you so much for contributing your thoughts, which to me, are worth far, far more than two cents!

      You are so right: You can’t beat the golden rule for getting along in life. And. the quote you provided by Leo Buscaglia says it all: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia, author (1924-1998)

      Again, thank you so much for writing. Please stay in touch.


  2. Elaine, although we have never met, you know me so well! I was born an activist. I was president of my eighth grade class in elementary school and was actually impeached for my political views.

    I have mellowed since then and I do need to up my charm quotient. I really shouldn’t tell people they are full of crap when they don’t agree with me. That’s not nice. My mother always told me you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and in retrospect, she was right — most of the time.

    I appreciate you, Elaine. Keep ’em coming!

  3. I don’t want you charming! I want you abrasive as you can be. Abrasive people are saying what they really think. Charming people are always questionable. And as far as real estate goes, I wouldn’t sell my house through an agent who tried to charm me into it. I know mendacity when I smell it, just like Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. Maybe you should become more of the activist you were meant to be, instead!

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