I’ve been obsessed with the idea of poise and class since childhood. I vividly remember being so excited at the opportunity to attend an etiquette class when I was a child. You see, when I was in 2rd grade, my school announced that they were selecting 30 girls to participate in an etiquette class at school. Since they never told us the criteria they were using to make their selection, every night I blindly prayed that I would get picked. Unfortunately, I was not chosen. My sister was.
To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. My sister had no interest in the class whatsoever. So, I was incredibly jealous. Since I wasn’t exposed to this at home, I wanted to learn it all. I wanted to know how to set a table, dress, sit and walk elegantly. But, since I wasn’t chosen, I had to continue to try and figure things out on my own by watching television. To this day, I still love reading books that depict characters who are poised. But, unfortunately, in today’s society poise seems to be diminishing value. It seems as if poise and class has been replaced with reality television. While train wrecks are entertaining to watch, it’s not really how you want to present yourself. At least, not how I want to present myself.
Going forward in this world, one of the biggest hurdles I have found with trying to transform myself from the girl form the ghetto to a poised woman is knowing what is important and what isn’t. The fact remains, times have changed and even the most elite woman have evolved. So, Pride & Prejudice probably isn’t a reliable source of information on how to conduct yourself in modern society. However, it should definitely be required reading in high school. What Is Poise?
So, what is poise? And, how do you harness it? First, let’s discuss what poise is. Poise is grace, confidence, elegance, composure, and compassion. Think Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Both of these women exemplified poise. Their styles differed, but there is no denying both of these women oozed poise. It was an integral part of their personalities. That doesn’t mean they were born with it. They cultivated it. Anyone can can cultivate poise. It takes practice, patience with yourself, and a willingness to succeed.
Steps To Cultivate Poise
- I personally think practicing kindness and compassion is the first step. It doesn’t matter how graceful you walk, how elegant you dress, or how confident you are if you’re rude to other people. I realize there are many elite people in this world that are extremely rude and arrogant. However, no one looks at them and thinks that person is poised. So, when you go out to dinner, treat the wait staff with respect. Make sure you’re extending the same curtesy to your elders and people of authority. Trust me there are plenty of ways to cordially disagree if it’s necessary. Keep in mind, people will always remember someone who was either kind or rude to them.
- Which brings me to my next point. First impressions are extremely important. You can never make a second first impression. Most people decide what they think of you in first 10 seconds. Make sure you’re presenting yourself the way you want people to view you.
- Gain confidence. I’ve already written another post about confidence. I’ll link it below. But, confident people naturally stand tall, dress well, and speak with grace and ease.
- Figure out what style suits you and stick with it! Forget all the trends. Coco Chanel once said that trendy is the last stage before tacky, and I couldn’t agree more. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some trendy pieces. Just make sure you focus on quality classic pieces. Also, don’t walk out in wrinkled clothing. It’s lazy. Iron them.
- Correct your posture. Stand up straight, lift your chest, roll your shoulders back and keep you chin parallel to the ground.
- Dress for the occasion. If you’re attending a cocktail party or a black tie event, have the common decency to abide by the dress code.
- Implement a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods and work out. If you take care of yourself you’ll feel and look better. While we’re on topic, hygiene is a non-negotiable!
- Find a balance between education, family, work/charity, hobbies, and social events. You don’t want to be one dimensional. If your life is unbalanced, you’ll be both miserable and boring. As a mother of 3 small children, I know this one can be the hardest to figure out. Children take up a lot of time. Spending time with them and taking care of them should be your first priority, but don’t forget about yourself. It doesn’t do them or you any good.
- Be a good listener. Nothing is more frustrating than having a conversation with someone who isn’t listening. Constantly looking at your phone while you’re speaking with another person is rude. Put your phone down, make eye contact, and genuinely engage in the conversation.
- Stay on top of current events. However, steer clear of topics that involve religion, politics, or finances when speaking with other people. These topics have the ability to start nuclear wars, literally and metaphorically speaking. If you know a topic is polarizing, it’s best to avoid it. The only exception to this is if you’re certain the people you’re speaking with have similar views as you. Then it’s okay, but still tread carefully!
- Make reading and learning a daily habit. Education doesn’t end once you receive a college diploma. It’s a life long journey.
- Minimize public displays of affection. It makes the people around you uncomfortable and makes you look bad. It’s especially disrespectful around older generations. Besides, you’re opening yourself up to negative gossip.
- I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention this, but don’t engage in gossip. You’re not in high school anymore. And, if you are feel free to be better than the girls who do choose to gossip. It looks bad, and makes people wonder what you’re saying about them behind their backs. If someone one tries to goad you into gossiping about someone else, try pointing out something positive about the person. That’s usually enough to nip the gossip in the bud. But, if it isn’t just politely excuse yourself from the conversation.