Poise and polish can be cultivated. Good deportment is there for all of us. High quality professionals, across various industries, include poise and polish amongst their skill sets. Irrespective of one’s role in an organization, a certain elegance can elevate performance while concurrently escalating others’ opinions.
Be Where Your Feet Are: put more simply, focus. There is a certain intensity when one focuses the mind on the current topic/environment. Especially when you turret that attention toward individuals.
George Bush and Bill Clinton are both known for the way they make people feel upon meeting. Many come away expressing how noticed they felt when they had a chance to meet either guy.
Cardinal Dolan from the archdiocese of New York represents a personal experience I have with, for lack of a better term, a famous person.
Kathleen and I chatted with him several times in a receiving line format.
As well, he bounces from table to table during events. He has a way of connecting with you quickly. My wife things of him as a personal friend, albeit he has no clue truly who she is! It’s just that when he is talking to her, he makes her feel is is there for the express purpose of seeing her. He builds a personal connection effortlessly.
Now, that is just one example. More generally, it has to do with being in that moment. When you attend a meeting, contribute based on what you are hearing. Let everyone who speaks know that you are listening. This does not mean you have to comment or respond- that would be annoying to all. Taking a quick handwritten note, or the turn of a chair, or high quality eye-contact can all signify attention. A brief “tell me more” is a turn on for most egos.
Create an allegiance. Sometimes without saying a word.
Beware your phone. If you are on it, even using the calculator or taking notes, it distracts. It subliminally tells folks you are elsewhere. Call it multi-tasking if that’s the way you roll, but it rarely impresses.
When you walk in the room, is it game time? Do people know it’s on?
I’m not advocating you always be Mr. Intense, but when you want everyone to see it is “on-air” time, can you make it happen?
There has to be focus. When you consistently are where your feet are, your ability to bring intensity when it suits you will grow.
Next up is Storefront- the image you project to others.
Do I mean appearance? Yes, if I’m honest, appearance plays into this quite a bit. If you are unduly heavy, you have to clean that up. You’ll need a plan against that, and you’ll do it one step at a time. Others will know better than I the best practices for that.
Yet storefront is much more than appearance. Your posture, your clothing, your expression, your manner (or mien, for those looking to enhance the vocabulary) all contribute to your storefront.
Most of communication is non-verbal. Your storefront is shrieking things about you even when you are silent. Sometimes more when you are silent! Your storefront never shuts up.
My impulse is to identify clothing as the first characteristic to address. I could write a book- it’d be boring I’ll admit-about clothing. I’ll just give several disparate examples knowing you could add better ones.
Your facial expression is perhaps the most important component of your storefront.
Many of us can allow our faces to relax when not the focus of a group. And often that relaxed facial expression is not our most appealing. Wear an open expression. If you have to practice it, I’d suggest you do just that. Practice it. All the time. You don’t see many sullen people who look great. Don’t be sullen in your expression.
Your packaging figuratively defines how you want others to perceive you. Yet it is the consistency of this packaging that matters at the core. Wearing one’s best work outfit/suit on a rotational basis does not hit the mark unless there is great consistency in the overall look. Remember your storefront is always turned on.
Vocabulary matters. Again, the topic is too broad to address properly. But I’ll give a couple examples:
If you do these three things all the time
and if you are consistent with your approach, you’ll escalate your poise and polish.
I realize that I did not start this article defining the benefits of poise and polish, but if I’m honest, I don’t think the concept is worth defending. Either it appeals to you, or it doesn’t. A visceral thing.