Poise & Composure

How we handle a situation or unfortunate mishap influences how we are perceived by others. When we remain calm and in control of our emotions, we are perceived as having poise and composure. These people are also perceived as having a high level of confidence.

On the other hand, if you are flippant, overly emotional, or out of control, you may be perceived as being unable to handle difficult situations. Young adults, and some older adults as well, are perceived to be immature when they act in this manner.

I remember watching a high school scholastic competition. During the talent segment of the competition, one of the contestants was much more musically skilled for her age than another contestant. The highly skilled contestant made a few minor errors in her performance. She stomped her foot, shrugged her shoulders and marched off stage. The lesser skilled contestant made many more errors than the highly skilled contestant, but when she completed her solo, she bowed and beamed from ear to ear with pride knowing she gave it her all and warmly accepted the audience’s applause. The lesser skilled contestant did much better overall in the competition because of her positive attitude and appeal to the audience and judges. It’s how you handle the situation at hand that matters.

When I worked in public relations at a college, I was giving a tour of the college to a member of the press. During the tour, the heel of my shoe broke. My guest didn’t notice it, so I continued to complete the tour as if nothing happened. A few of the students who saw my heel break approached me later and asked why I didn’t do or say anything about it. I replied, “My guest didn’t know the heel was broken and bringing it to their attention would have been distracting to my meeting. I took care of it privately after my guest left.” Again, it’s how you handle the situation.

Here are a few tips to help you stay poised and composed:

1. Stay calm. Do not show negative emotions in public.

2. Take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to think of a response.

3. Foul language is always forbidden.

4. Remain positive and open to a new plan.

5. If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize, and move on. If you forgive yourself, others will also forgive you. Never continue to dwell on the negative.

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