“I think that’s something that really was one of Tom’s greatest strengths, is his ability to see the field, remain calm, remain poised, even though the stadium may be going crazy if we’re on the road…We may only have a couple seconds to work with or whatever the circumstances are.” – New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on quarterback Tom Brady
We can all agree that poise is crucial to being a great quarterback. Joe Montana had it. Dan Marino had it. John Elway, unfortunately for my Kansas City Chiefs, had it.
And Tom Brady handles himself with more poise than any quarterback or possibly any athlete in history. And we can apply his poise in the face of uncertain situations to our business. It can make a difference on whether you are perceived as a business leader — or not.
Standing calm, staying confident and executing in a tough moment is something that the best of the best have learned to do. Fortunately for us, poise can be learned. Here are five essential strategies to ramp up your professional poise:
Practice manners and etiquette
First impressions count when meeting with a prospect. Stand tall, act confident, give a firm handshake, offer an enthusiastic greeting and maintain eye contact. Always introduce yourself with your first and last name. People notice your manners, whether you’re taking a client to lunch, networking in a crowded room, negotiating a deal or simply interacting around the office.
Your communication and presentation skills are paramount in this business. When speaking with others, talk at a moderate speed with constant volume; avoid drops at the beginning or end of sentences, and maintain eye contact with your entire audience. But talking cogently with others isn’t enough; you must also listen thoughtfully. Stay patient, and don’t be tempted to finish others’ sentences.
Maintain your composure
Inevitably, you won’t agree with someone or a situation won’t go as planned. Before you jump to conclusions, listen to what is being said and assess the situation calmly. Your poise makes others feel safe, secure and comfortable in your presence.
Become conversational in diverse subjects
School is never out for the best conversationalists. They acquire a well-rounded repertoire of conversational topics through books, magazines, trade journals and talk radiso programs. They enroll in classes, attend cultural and sporting events and watch a variety of movies. Take the opportunity to learn everything you can, and you will feel more confident in your ability to interact with anyone.
Focus on the positive
Stay considerate of others, and look for how you can help them. When you help others, they want to help you in return. In addition, avoid office gossip and scapegoating. Unless a situation is life-threatening, get over it and move on.
Overall, take pride in your words and actions. Distinguish yourself with professional poise, and gain confidence and self-esteem by enhancing your stage presence. Owning this role shows the world you mean business.