How to Be Poised and Gracious in All Areas of Your Life

What Poise and Grace Are, and How to Practice Having Both

I need everyone to give me their best ideas
PeopleImages / Getty Images

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be comfortable in all situations? Many of them also attract others. Although it appears to come naturally in people who always seemed poised, it's actually a developed trait that takes time.

The most gracious people engage others by starting natural conversations and truly being interested in what the other person has to say. Chances are, they are confident, which leads to a natural form of poise and grace.

What Is Poise?

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, especially when you're challenged in a professional or social environment. Rude people can provoke a reaction, but the most poised people are prepared for whatever comes their way.

Those who have poise find the best in others and considers their needs. They are rarely jealous or act self-important but rather have a genuine interest in one's well-being. For instance, if there is a sharing of a tense experience, a poised person will listen before sharing.

What Is Poise?

Poise: To exhibit confidence, control, and a sense of calm.

What Is Grace?

Merriam-Webster states that gracious means "being polite in a way that shows respect." Grace has a powerful history that goes back to the Bible. People with grace are difficult to anger. They are understanding, versed in manners, and are quick to praise without seeking credit. Being courteous, gracious, and humble will make you a much more pleasant person to be around, and others will naturally flock to you.

What Is Grace?

Grace: The ability to handle situations with elegance and dignity.

Developing Poise and Grace

When you look at someone who seems poised and gracious, you probably think that they are confident and unafraid to show the person who they truly are. Adults can master this state of being by dropping bad habits and establishing good ones that involve showing respect for others and practicing proper etiquette.

Chances are if you are feeling down, the act of interacting with poise and grace will build confidence and make you feel better about yourself. From close friends to a quick exchange with someone at the grocery store, connecting genuinely improves the overall mood. Look to others who you admire and have graceful qualities as models for developing your own skills. Parents also have a responsibility to teach their children how 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 regularly.

10 Tips to Achieve Poise and Grace

  1. Keep in mind that no one is perfect. Striving for perfection is frustrating and will have consequences as opposed to what you are trying to achieve. Instead, learn from your mistakes and move forward. Ask for forgiveness when you mess up, either verbally or write an apology. Don't expect perfection from others either, or you'll find yourself in a constant state of disappointment. By owning up to a situation nudges a relationship into a better place rather than living with the wonder of an uncomfortable incident.
  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.
  3. Stand up straight. Whether you're tall or short, maintain good posture. Slumping and always looking down gives 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 heads erect and chin up. The message says that you want to be actively engaged rather than someplace else.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Summon patience. A poised person rarely loses their 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 weak. Better options are to find ways to remedy the situation, use it as a learning experience, and accept what has happened. Find techniques that allow you to think clearly so you can handle potent situations. Be patient with others who haven't yet mastered these important skills.
  7. 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, research to learn all about it.
  8. 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 invested in what they have to say. Nod, smile, and laugh at appropriate times. Be empathetic. Ask questions to keep the conversation going without it always being about you.
  9. Be positive but pragmatic. You don't have to be perpetually on, which can sometimes have an adverse reaction from appearing too artificial, and avoid dwelling 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. If you find that your current company is always sour, consider taking a break and seeking out more assured ones.
  10. 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 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 more confident and poised if you follow your calling.