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Juliet Hall

Do You Have Gravitas?

By March 6, 2024April 25th, 2024No Comments

Do you want people to take you seriously?

Do you want others to see a higher potential in you and regard you for opportunities they believe you can handle?

Please understand this: There are people who get promoted within an organization who aren’t the most experienced nor have the most longevity. Why is that?

In many cases, it’s because they possess a high degree of gravitas.

Gravitas comes from the Latin word “gravis” which means heavy, serious, or severe. It’s where words like “grave” and “gravity” come from. In school, we learned that gravity is a force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth.

Likewise, gravitas is an attracting force. When people gravitate towards you, it’s because you exude qualities and habits that make people believe you have something valuable to offer. It’s what many people call the “it” factor. Thus, gravitas is a mark of leadership.

People with gravitas carry a certain weight, dignity, and restraint—you “posture up” when they walk in the room. They possess a moral rigor and convey a sense of responsibility, commitment, and follow-thru to their work. Those with gravitas say what they mean and mean what they say—they make a habit of keeping their word. You don’t have to second guess them.

Gravitas is not swagger, or swag, which is to walk or behave in a way that reflects one’s self-assuredness or self-importance. Gravitas is also not eloquent speaking, but people with gravitas are able to convey their thoughts in a manner that is clear and concise.

Simply put, people with gravitas inspire confidence in others. Like virtues, gravitas must be developed through intention and practice. However, you can damage or stifle the development of your gravitas—and when you do, you could self-sabotage your opportunities for promotion or advancement at work, in your community, and/or in life.

Here are ten ways you might damage your own gravitas:

  1. Being loud or making too much noise.  Can people hear you a mile away? Do your mannerisms create distraction? Are you known for having emotional outbursts? People with gravitas are composed, measured, and behave in a manner that makes others feel comfortable being around them.
  1. Lack of preparation or inconsistent. Those with gravitas may not be the Einstein in the room, but they do study, have been tested, finish what they start, have a track record of success, and come prepared to share and make decisions from the knowledge and experience they have. What they do not know, they will simply say “I don’t know” instead of trying to wing it—or worse, making up something ridiculous.
  1. Being too chatty/gossipy. People with gravitas generally do not say more than is necessary. They have a “less is more” mindset which reflects their restraint and self-control. They generally don’t spend much time talking about other people unless it is constructive and productive toward advancing a situation.
  1. Inappropriate dress. How you dress not only reflects how you see and feel about yourself, but it also reflects your understanding of and respect for the culture. People with gravitas dress smartly, according to the environment and occasion. They won’t look “out of place.” Overly exposing your body, wearing clothes that don’t fit, not wearing the proper foundation underneath your clothes, and excessive jewelry and makeup are distracting in office environments and could damage your gravitas.
  1. Negative attitude. A negative attitude is off-putting. Like sour milk, there is nothing attractive nor pleasing about it.
  1. Negative body language/posture. People with gravitas can elevate the dignity in a room just with their presence. They walk and sit upright (never slumping), maintain eye contact (never rolling the eyes), and exude appropriate behaviors that reflect they are mentally present and engaged.
  1. Poor communication skills. You don’t have to be the most fluid speaker nor possess a broad vocabulary, but you must speak clearly and make your point using as few words as possible. People with gravitas are usually not the loudest ones in the room; generally, it’s the opposite. They don’t make a habit of talking over or interrupting others, and they will listen to what others have to say first before offering a timed, thoughtful response.
  1. Not enforcing boundaries. Know what you stand for. Know what is right and wrong. Stick to your vision. Base your decisions on the values you ascribe to. Adherence to vision and values is what makes people with gravitas reliable and trustworthy—and why others are likely to believe in them.
  1. Buffoonery. Don’t make yourself the joke in the office. Don’t force yourself to be funny. Strange and awkward humor can freeze a room or make you look like a fool. Appropriate humor, on the other hand, is acceptable; such humor is well-timed, quick, disarming, pertinent, and in good taste.
  1. Bad hygiene. This one requires no further explanation.

Do you inspire confidence in others? If you struggle with this, then consider the potential reasons above to see if any may apply to you.

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