The Difference Between Being Charming And Being A Sociopath

Kyle Everett Smith
Kyle Everett Smith

You can learn a lot from a sociopath. How to be charismatic, charming, convincing… They know how you think.

“That’s the mindset we want,” Jordan Harbinger said.

He was kidnapped twice. Once in Serbia. Once in Mexico. And he talked his way out both times.

“We knew there was a problem,” he said.

“The cop gets in my face and goes, ‘In your country, can you walk around with no identification and no passport? Tell me the goddamn truth.’”

Jordan was in Serbia teaching refugees English.

“Yeah, we don’t need any form of identification at all,” he said.

The cop turned to his friend and in Serbian said, “I guess they really are free over there. I had no idea.”

They didn’t know Jordan spoke Serbian.

He ended up in a basement. Pipes were sticking out of the wall. There was no water for miles. Wires were everywhere. And Jordan was tied to a chair. They threatened to burn his eyes with a cigarette. The guard had a club and rakia, a homebrewed liquor. Jordan talked his way out of going blind and into having a drink with his kidnapper.

I always say advice is autobiography. Now Jordan’s made a career teaching ultimate survival skills through his podcast, “The Art of Charm.”

I asked him, “How can I be more likable?”

“I think you’re very likable…”

Later he said I have “an un-punchable face.” And I agreed.

When Jordan was single, he saw a girl texting on the train. There was no cell service. I tried guessing what he said to her, “I didn’t get your text, can you re-send it?”

“No, no that’s a great, pick-up line, but I wanted to disarm her. So I said something like, ‘Are you gonna write the whole book on your phone?’”

I asked him the top 5 takeaways from his podcast. He said, “Everyone gets to the top differently.”

Jordan’s interviewed world leaders like General Hayden, the former head of the NSA and CIA, Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, and over 500 more.

They have stories. We all do.

You could self-publish yours. That’s what I did. My life changes every six months. Maybe yours will too.

Here’s Jordan’s top 5 takeaways from “The Art of Charm”:

1. Think about what people are worried about

“I just say whatever’s on my mind,” he said.

He was going to a dinner party. But he didn’t know what to wear. T-shirt or button-down? That’s the weakness. It’s the thing we all have in common, but no one wants to admit. That’s why I wear the same five outfits.

At the dinner party, Jordan said to the guy next to him, “I never know what to wear to these things. I feel like I look like such a dipshit in button-downs, but I also don’t want to wear a T-shirt to a dinner party and then be that jackass who wore a T-shirt to a dinner party.”

People aren’t used to honesty.

But that’s how Jordan survived Serbia.

The guy next to him said, “Oh my god, I know. I never know what to do, I’m wearing my work clothes, but I feel like a dork.”

BAM! Now they’re friends.

He used the same trick when he was single. Once he broke the ice, women would feel comfortable coming back to talk with him later.

2. Use deliberate practice

Anders Ericsson, the creator of the 10,000-hour rule came up with the idea of “deliberate practice,” which involves two steps:

  1. Get a teacher.
  2. Get feedback.

A friend of mine asked me for dating advice. But she didn’t look satisfied with my answer. So I asked, “What could I have done better?”

I used deliberate practice to learn how to be a better friend.

3. Don’t be manipulative

Trying to get someone to like you doesn’t make you likable. It makes you a sociopath. There’s a fine line between being likable and being manipulative. Identify your intentions. And move from there. You can always start over. That’s the beauty of life.

4. Outwork your opponent

I asked Jordan, “How do you outthink your opponent if, presumably, the reason they’re your opponent is because they’re as good as you or better?”

Simple: outwork them.


5. Don’t follow the rules

“It was a little bit bad cop/worse cop.”

One guy kicked his chair. Another guy burned his arms.

When he escaped, Jordan searched for the police. But a local warned him. The police were in on it.

“People play by the rules if they don’t know a better way,” he said.

I know a better way…

Choose yourself. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.

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