How to Be Poised and Gracious

Female dancer showing grace and elegance
It takes time and practice to develop poise, but it's worth the effort. Multi-bits/Stone/Getty Images

Poise is one of those states of being that anyone can master. Merriam-Webster describes being poised as "marked by easy composure of manner or bearing." In other words, having poise is being comfortable in your own skin. This isn't always easy. Merriam-Webster also states that gracious means "being polite in a way that shows respect."

When you look at someone who seems poised and gracious, you probably think that she is confident and unafraid to show the person she truly is.

One of the most important things a parent can do for a child is to teach her to be polite, self-sufficient, and confident. If parents don't do this, it's up to the person to figure out how to become that on her own.

Remember that you don't have to be wealthy or powerful to be poised and gracious. It is more about showing your true self through actions, gestures, and what you say. Learn the basic etiquette rules and use them on a regular basis.

Here are some tips that can help you achieve poise and grace:

  1. Keep in mind that no one is perfect. Striving for perfection is frustrating and will have consequences opposed to what you are trying to achieve. Instead, learn from your mistakes and move forward. Don't expect perfection from others either, or you'll find yourself in a constant state of disappointment.
  2. Imagine yourself being confident. If you lack confidence, do some mental imaging. Watch others who appear self-assured and make notes about what makes them seem that way. It may be the way they walk or the fact that they look people in the eye as they hold a conversation.
  1. Stand up straight. Notice I didn't say to stand tall? That's because some of us are short. Slumping and always looking down gives you the appearance of sadness and the opposite of being poised and self-confident. Most people can look more poised when they stand straighter with their head erect and chin up.
  1. Avoid arrogance. Poise has nothing to do with arrogance or snobbery, so don't confuse the two. A humble person who cares about others and gives them their time in the light can be more poised than someone who is cocky and arrogant.
  2. Be yourself. One thing you have that is strictly yours and no one else's is the combination of your values, life experiences, and personality. Don't ever try to be someone you aren't because as soon as the façade cracks, you'll look pitiful rather than poised.
  3. Summon patience. A poised person rarely loses her cool. When something happens that threatens to ruin your day, how you handle the situation determines how poised you are. You have choices when your patience is tested. You can throw a temper tantrum, but that makes you appear pathetic. Better options are to find ways to remedy the situation, use it as a learning experience, and accept what has happened. Be patient with others who haven't yet mastered these important skills.
  4. Be a lifelong student. Most people who show poise and grace are open to new knowledge. Read books, be aware of pop culture, follow the news, be tech savvy, and take classes. If you discover a topic that you are interested in but not aware of, do research to learn all about it.
  1. Stop talking and listen. People will think you are the smartest person in the world if you listen closely, pay attention to what they say, and show that you are completely engaged as they speak. Nod, smile, and laugh at appropriate times. Ask questions to keep the conversation going without it always being about you.
  2. Be positive but pragmatic. You don't have to be Pollyanna-ish, but don't dwell on the negative. Doing so will keep you down, and you'll lack the poise you're looking for. You only have so much energy, and you'll burn it up faster if you always see the bad side of something.
  3. Find a purpose in life and go for it. You may be the type of person who is driven to succeed in business. Take classes and talk to people at the level where you want to be. Or you might be someone who is mission-minded, and you want to make a difference in social issues in the world or country. Find a soup kitchen or food bank and volunteer. You'll be much more confident and poised if you follow your calling.