I have a friend who's really charismatic, has infectious enthusiasm, the "big guy in the room", etc.

That's great. The problem is that he's started judging and giving advice to other people around him that they're completely out of touch with because they don't have that talent. But if they or I try to explain this to him, he says they're "making excuses" or "talking about [him] not [them]".

Is there any way to convey the fact that there is a difference?

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    Hey Mark! Can you explain how you've tried to explain the difference to Mr. Charisma, and perhaps elaborate on their reaction a bit more as well? Including anything you tried (and didn't work) or thought of doing (but are afraid you're unable to pull off for some reason) in your question, will make sure answers won't suggest things you've already tried or that won't be feasible to you. Besides that, it narrows down your question a lot more, making it more answerable. I'm also curious what kind of advice he's giving, can/will you disclose a little more on what he says when 'he gives advice'?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jul 12, 2019 at 19:20
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    Since it's kind of difficult to point out an exact difference, usually I have to point out how his experiences have been different from mine or others of our friends' - and his response is either a) "why are you being envious?" or b) "you're just making excuses, what happened to me doesn't prove anything about you". The advice given is fairly generic, but includes things like trying new things and getting involved with others doing so (which is easy for him because of infectious enthusiasm)
    – Mark Green
    Jul 13, 2019 at 1:01
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    Sorry Mark, I don't understand why you need him to understand "what it's like to not be so charismatic". What will it change if he finally understands it?
    – user324
    Jul 19, 2019 at 9:52
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    What I'm hoping is that he'll stop giving out advice to others that just makes them sad, and having expectations of others that they can't meet, because he goes by his experience.
    – Mark Green
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:51

3 Answers 3


This is a common bias called Illusion of Transparency manifested as an overestimation of the ability of others to understand his mental state.

In my experience with learning processes in adults, it is very difficult to teach others to do things we are naturally good at. It comes effortlessly to us, so we don't pay attention to it, we don't REALLY know how we do it, so it is difficult to explain.

Think about walking. How would you explain to somebody who was wheelchair bound their entire life and has no idea how to walk how to do that? Without resorting to a generic, oversimplified "one foot in front of the other". This is a little bit of what's going on in your case and you are very likely to find a similar case to draw on. (And a little of what goes on in my daily life, as I'm literally being paid to teach people how to do stuff that comes naturally to me. I use this analogy frequently.)

Mostly any skill that has this "subconscious" component can be used for giving your friend a similar experience in another context so the empathy comes from symmetry. Singing, dancing, painting, drawing, cooking, mental mathematics, a whole lot of sports. You can use any of this to explain what's going on to your friend, preferably something that he is bad at and you (or some other person in your group) is good at.

  • Very interesting and I’m sure this is relevant. The thing is that I think he also finds the idea that “other people just react to him better than to others” a bit disturbing. Can that be helped?
    – Mark Green
    Jul 16, 2019 at 16:11
  • This is indeed correct, as humans we do tend to react better to people who are more charismatic, there is a whole lot of psychology going on behind it that I cannot fit in 500 characters. If he has a scientific disposition, you can explain it like this, that it is just human nature. Jul 17, 2019 at 7:36
  • An explanation wouldn't help, it's the implications that would be disturbing. That others treat him better just because he is him would imply some degree of responsibility, for example.
    – Mark Green
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:52
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    I think that there is also some due explanation on "span of control". He doesn't fully control how other people react to him (and neither does anybody else for that matter). You can influence to a certain point, but you'd need to be Killgrave to fully control other people... Jul 24, 2019 at 12:02

I don't think you can change his state of mind. And you shouldn't try to do it because there is no benefit for you. Will it change your life if he admits that he finally understands what it's like to have no charisma?

What I would suggest is to stop caring about what he says and stop answering his remarks. Even if he starts to give advices without no one asking, you need to stop answering because when you answer, you are telling him that you accept the topic so he will go on.

Just avoid this kind of conversation, avoid getting to the point where he feels like he needs to give his advices, and even if he starts to talk about advices, don't answer and change the subject.


Don't do:

BIG GUY: Charisma is easy, you just have to xxx!
YOU: It's not that easy when you have yyy!
BIG GUY: Well, if you zzz, then you can xxx!
etc, then he will keep on giving advices

But do:

BIG GUY: Charisma is easy, you just have to xxx!
YOU: . . . (stay silent)
YOU: Whatever... have you seen that movie?


Ask him questions. When asking questions to an other person, they will automatically try to come up with answers themselves, and so come to a better understanding of their own thoughts or beliefs.

I was wondering, how come you are this charismatic?

X could come up with answers like:

I was just born this way.


I wasn't always like this. I try to effortfully listen to people, and adjust my reactions dynamically to their behaviors.

Then you could ask another question like:

So, what allowed you to develop the skills to listen diligently to others, and how do know what are "charismatic" reactions?

X could say:

Putting out effort communicating with people, trial-and-error, and self-reflection.

Then you could follow up:

Okay, so if it is effort then it depends on energy levels, and if it is trial-and-error then it is influenced by having an avoidant or perfectionistic personality. Wouldn't it be harder for some people to develop charisma then?

This allows X to think about different kind of personalities and talents, and how it would be difficult for some people to achieve charisma. I can imagine that person X wasn't always this charismatic, and developed his communication skills through practice, since he's responding in a way that people are making excuses for their flaws.

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