History in the Making

How to Remain Poised in Stressful Situations

Poise can mean a couple of things; it can be your physical demeanour, as well as your mental state. While I think any number of people could be considered poised, we all have our own, slightly unique definition of it. For myself, I believe that someone is poised holds and moves themselves purposefully- no fidgeting- and always thinks before speaking, even if it means pausing. Being poised is sometimes easier said than done, though, and there may be situations where are you are just bursting out of happiness or confusion or anger. These are my four tips on how to remain poised through any situation and putting your best foot forward!

Remain Poised

1) Pay Attention to Your Posture

A calm and upright posture will go a long way to being poised. A lot of people don’t realise just how hunched and stooped over they are; we all know that desk jobs inevitably lead to poor posture without continuing attention, but we don’t necessarily connect that information to how we actually appear. Work on keeping your spine straight and your shoulders back! Here is a ballet tip: imagine that there is small light in the hollow of your neck and you want it to shine as far as it can! Upright posture can go along to helping you feel calm and confident in whatever you are doing, as well as showing others as well.

Changing your posture (depending on how far you need to go) won’t happen overnight but small steps to start with! I have trained myself that any time I touch my hair, I “check in” on my posture. I know that some people will argue that touching your hair is an unconscious gesture for most of us, but I found once I attached a to-do to it, I paid attention to both how often I touch my hair and my posture.

An Historian About Town Relaunch Photoshoot

2) Cut Out Filler Words

A lot of us- me included- depend on filler words when we talk. Um, uh, ah, ugh, like, the list goes on and on. Most of us don’t even realise that we are doing it either- it just happens. But when there are multiple words in every sentence, you start to sound like you don’t know what you are talking about, like you are unsure of yourself, and like you aren’t paying attention. None of these options are particularly poised.

Just like your posture, start paying attention to what words you are actually saying, and start eliminating those filler words. It might mean that you pause for half a second or a second longer before speaking, but pausing to think and properly formulate your thought will only help you to be more purposeful and collected in what you are saying! You don’t need to cut out every single filler word but depending on them will never have a positive effect on those around you.

Meeting at Work

3) Slow Down

I am often guilty of this- trying to get so much done that I physically have to rush around to fit it all in. Yes, some people can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time, but learn to be effective enough in what you are doing that you don’t have to physically run around. Some people will look at you and think, “They are so busy, they must be accomplished!”, but others will look at you and think, “They are always running around, but are they actually DOING anything?”.

Physically slow yourself down and actually think about what you are doing. You may notice something new about even the most routine thing you do, and you will look far more poised and sure of yourself to those around you. The modern world is full of busy and rushed people, and purposefully moving at a slower pace will make those people stop and take note of you! It will also help with your own energy levels and mental health; not one of us can continue to rush around without taking a break at some point. Burn out looks good on no one!
Tea cup from Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Banff Springs

4) Be Comfortable With Who You Are

People who are uncomfortable stick out like a sore thumb. Think about when your skirt doesn’t fit and you are always fidgeting, or when you don’t know anyone at a conference and you are constantly looking around for an escape route- people notice that you are all over the place and that something is clearly “off”. They might not know specifically what is off, but they know that something is.
Wear clothing that you are comfortable in, do any preparations and research you need to in order to feel comfortable in a situation, and remember that you are  capable and intelligent person who can handle anything. Don’t sweat it if there is a blip in the road, and know that you can roll with whatever comes your way. Even the most poised person in the world walks in to the wrong room or spills soup down their white blouse, but it is how they handle it that makes an impact.
An Historian About Town Portrait

How do you remain poised and put your best foot forward in tough situations?

The Historian
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4 thoughts on “How to Remain Poised in Stressful Situations”

  • Jessica, I am just starting to read the book, Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic – by Jennifer L. Scott. I had read her other books on being a student in France, At Home with Madame Chic and Lessons from Madam Chic, and thought this one might be fun.

    • I have read most of her books, Joan, they are quite fun! I struggle a tiny bit sometimes- I find it can fall into the “French women are better than the rest of us trap” but overall are enjoyable and have so many great tips to use!

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