What is poise and how do we attain it?
Well, according to Merriam Webster dictionary, poise means a state of balance and a particular way of carrying oneself.
To elaborate, it is an easy and natural assurance of manner, displaying gracious tact and peaceful communication in all kinds of situation and absolutely no angry outbursts.
Now, lets’ dive deeper to expand the word poise on thesaurus and see what we have got:
counterbalance, firmness, security, stability, steadiness, attitude, stance, attention, body language, pose, bearing, behavior, conduct, demeanour, deportment, air, presence; aspect, look, mien
The main theme here seems to revolve around self-assurance and what we do, behave, think or say to radiate that.
Poise is not just about looks, but also a lot more to do with our speech, communication and body language. It’s about the way you make people feel when they are around you.
In a nutshell, here are the 7 keys to becoming the poise woman that most people aspire to be.
Confidence is the foundation block to several of the keys here. Without confidence, you will not have the courage and motivation to progress and make the necessary changes in your life to become a poise woman.
Low self-confidence is often a by-product of thinking that we are not good enough, or thinking we have nothing to contribute and that we can never measure up even if we try.
The key to building self-confidence is to learn to love yourself and know your true worth.
Recognise the truth that everyone is unique and no-one is perfect. We all humans who have strengths, weaknesses and challenges.
Composure means steadiness or cool-headedness.
It has very little to do with how we are like when things are going well and smooth. Everyone is composed when they are happy and in good mood. No big deal about it.
Composure is the type of person who you will become when faced with a stressful and negative situation. This is where your patience will tested and your response will be evaluated.
For example, if you step on someone’s foot accidentally and that person turns around and scold you a vulgar ‘F’ word, what will you do?
Will you join in the fight and engage in a war with that person? Or will you turn around, eat back your angry words and walk away, refusing to start a fight, even though you are fuming inside?
If you choose the former, you will have lost it.
This is what composure is about – maintaining a positive psychological state of mind and controlling our responses to negative situations or people.
It is an intentional action and rarely something that comes naturally to us due to our human nature.
Stay away from public outbursts by making a conscious effort to restrain your words and actions.
It might sound like mission impossible, but if you can adopt a new mindset and see such situation as a chance to practice composure until it becomes your new nature, you will be ready to face it.
Know this, there is absolutely no way you can learn to be composed if there’s no bad situations.
Compassion is the ability to identify the pains, sufferings, weaknesses, failures and other negative emotions that others are going through.
It’s about being able to empathise with others, putting yourself in their shoes, be sensitive to their feelings and emotions, and even sincerely to help the person in any way that you can.
For example, you can support them by simply providing a listening ear, speak encouraging words to lift up the person, or offering your help to meet their needs in a realistic way if possible (eg. referring a doctor/specialist you know, lend or giving something that you know will help the person.)
The last thing you want to do is to criticise the person who is feeling down and out, pin-point where he or she have gone wrong and offer your unsolicited advice.
If you do that, you will come across as a rude, ignorant and insensitive person.
Graciousness is the art of being kind, polite, respectful, courteous, considerate and generous to people.
There are various situations where graciousness can be shown, and you can be gracious with your words or actions.
For example, letting rushing people have the right of way first, holding the door for someone behind you, or picking up the food or litter that you accidentally dropped on the floor, instead of ignoring it and walking away, thinking that someone will clean up after you.
If you are hosting a dinner or party, being a gracious and hospital host will require you to serve readily, putting your guests’ needs before yours and making sure that your guests are well taken care of.
It’s also about learning to accept compliments wholeheartedly and thank the person who you gave it to you, instead of rejecting it and saying that you are nothing like that, perhaps due to shyness or wanting to be humble.
Truth is, learning to accept compliments graciously is a sign of confidence and thanking the person who compliment you is a way of being polite and courteous. It’s akin to someone giving you a gift and the most basic thing you can do is to say ‘thank you’.
On the flip side, graciousness is also about learning to accept criticism from others and thanking them for their feedback, whether they are constructive or destructive.
Saying ‘thank you’ doesn’t mean we accept their comments, its simply a way to move the conversation forward in a harmonious and pleasant manner, instead of letting it turn into a sour war.
The last thing you want to do is to start getting defensive and jump to your own defences, which can often lead to harsh exchanges of words and creating a negative ambience.
We hold the power to accept or reject criticisms. Be aware that not all of them are bad. Some are well meaning and we do need constructive feedback to change for the better.
The best way to evaluate a criticism is to think it through, talk to someone we trust to validate and conclude if there’s truth to it.
5. Being Present
Being present simply means being in the moment in whatever things you do, where ever you are and whoever you are with.
It means decluttering your mind and putting aside all your worries in order to fully enjoy the moment with your friends and family. Put your mobile devices aside and simply enjoy a good conversation, especially with those that you love.
Be curious about their lives, hear their updates and share yours meaningfully. The whole point is to have a good time with others.
Let’s face it.
Life is short, things and people are always changing or moving, so you never know when you will meet them again. Don’t take the present for granted.
It is call present because it’s meant to enrich our lives through meaningful bonding, communication and experience.
So, cherish the moment.
Ideally, this should apply in any social gatherings and functions you are attending. If you are always on your phone or having all these negative thoughts, you will look preoccupied and unapproachable to others, and you probably will wonder why no one wants to talk to you.
Some people do not like to attend social functions because they don’t like to talk to strangers, which is another form of learnable skill call networking.
If you don’t enjoy being there, then don’t go.
What’s the point of dragging your body to a social gathering with your mind left behind at home? It will be a complete waste of your time and other people’s time.
But if you choose to go, be aware that you are stepping into a social scene that isn’t just about you anymore. You have to socially responsible and be ready to step out of your comfort zone to engage with others, whether you like it or not.
6. Living With Passion & Purpose
This is a tough one.
Often, living with passion and purpose sounds like a airy fairy dream that doesn’t go well with the reality of having to pay our mortgages and putting bread and butter on the table.
Unfortunately, this reality is created by our society, that we have to do what’s practical.
If you already know your passion and are already doing something with it, congratulations!
But if you are living your life on practical terms, or going with the flow of life, then you are really missing out on all the fun, laughter, joy, meaning and vibrance in life.
Your life is likely to be dry, dull, boring and even stifling.
You see, passion is not something money can buy, it is something you have to discover.
Some people have the privilege of knowing where their passion lies at a young age, but many do not know what their passion are even after several years of working.
This is because our education system have not prepare us for that and it doesn’t give us enough time and space to discover our passion. The education system is meant to support the economy so that people can be trained up and equipped to work in all kinds of profession.
Contrary to what many people think, our education does not end after we graduate from school. In fact, its only the beginning.
There’s so much more we have to learn in life and about ourselves, and we can only learn by doing and trying out new things, even learning from our mistakes and failures, and then finding out what work or don’t work for us.
The task of discovering our passion is our own responsibility where no one can do it for us.
Living with passion and purpose don’t necessarily mean it has to be our career. Many people pursue their passion outside their work because they enjoy it and it’s what makes them feel alive and it gives meaning to their lives.
When you are doing something that aligns with your passion, your life will be so much more colorful. You’ll have more confidence, joy and laughter, and certainly more interesting things to share with others in your area of ‘speciality’. You’ll hardly come across as a dull and boring person that no one wants to talk to.
Finally, key #7 has less to do with mindset and thinking, but more of our style and presentation, in the way that we dress and the first impression we make.
I put this as a last point because I want everyone to know that poise is really 80% on the inner/mental, and 20% on the outer. If you can master the 80%, then the 20% will be a very easy task.
You see, what we wear on the outside reflects what goes on on the inside. If we have low confidence, feel dull, moody and whiny all the time, we won’t put much thoughts and effort to dress nicely. Instead, we will just grab whatever that we feel comfortable at that moment.
Even if you do make an effort to dress up, it will just be a temporary act that won’t last and you won’t keep up with the consistency.
People who are consistency doing the 80% are very likely to be committed and open to learning and changes, so making an improvement in their appearances will not be an issue.
A poise woman is about the whole package, so personal grooming and taking care of her appearance is the final touch to it.
Learning to dress well and developing a unique style is a way to fine-tune and communicate to others more accurately on who you really are, not who you should be.
It is about sending a positive and consistent message about ourselves to the world.
Style and substance goes a much longer way than the endless chasing of fads and fashion trends, or copying what others are wearing just because it looks good on them and thinking that it’ll work magically on us too.
By this time, you should have realised that poise is rarely something that happens to us naturally.
Unless you are born into a family that values the importance of poise and are being trained from young to live and breathe poise, chances are, all these will be hard work and definitely something we have to deliberately work for.
It’s about making progressive changes in our lives, not just in our appearances, but also on our mindsets, in the way that we think and speak.
Human beings are naturally resistance to change and we often fall back to our old ways because of our comfort zones. When this happens, you got to fight the resistance, because nothing worthwhile comes easy.
Ever heard of this quote?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
Yes, I know it might sound a little cliche, or you’ve probably heard it a zillion times, but I still think we all need a good reminder sometimes.
If you want a change, you got to make it happen, even taking baby steps towards it will make a difference, as long as you don’t stop.
Personal transformation is marathon, not a race.
We need to pace and nourish ourselves along the way, so don’t beat yourself up if you fail to improve in any of these area in three months. Some people take years to grow!
You didn’t become the current you overnight, so don’t expect to become a new you instantly.
Give yourself room. Be patient, always be ready to acquire new knowledge and make a conscious time and effort to practice.
Slowly but surely, you will see changes overtime, and it will all be worth it.