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Acting With Aplomb


Techniques Self-development > Acting With Aplomb

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Be calm, composed and self-assured at all times, especially when things are going wrong. Do the right thing (using social values) as far as possible and do not fret if you cannot do more. Keep a stillness within and in you external manner. Sustain grace under pressure.

When others are becoming anxious and losing their heads, keep yours. When they are acting manically or reactively, calmly pause and consider what has happened and what the best thing to do will be. Take charge not by being authoritarian but by being reasonable and clear. Take decisive action and do not be distracted by sideshows. Listen to suggestions but do not be deflected by unnecessary alternatives. Give others a sense of control by demonstrating that you know what to do.

Show concern for people, especially when they seem unable to care about one another (as happens when people become stressed). Be restrained in what you say, avoiding harsh words and criticism. Offer comforting words and a haven of calm.


At a meeting there is an loud argument. The chairperson says nothing, then stands up. When she has attention she looks calmly around at the people as she notes disagreement and the need for decision. She then facilitates a stepwise resolution.

There is heavy rain and floodwaters are rising. As the family panics, the father gets them busy taking things upstairs as he calmly phones friends to come and help. He gets out the insurance policy and shows them they are covered.


Aplomb is not a very common word and it is also not that common a personality characteristic in business or life, yet it is greatly valued and people who use it are much admired. Dictionary definitions point to 'composure under stress'.

When we are stressed, our values often change as we seek to alleviate the discomfort rather than act in rational and thoughtful ways. We hence become more selfish and uncaring and may act in ways we later regret.

Those who act with aplomb set aside their inner concerns as they look to act with integrity, sustaining their calm and doing the 'right thing'. They contain their worries for now and have private ways of purging them at a later time. They may also be generally less anxious and more self-confident than others, which helps them behave in a consistently assured way.

To seem more in control, a simple trick is to hold your lower body still, especially when standing and if others can see your legs. This is the area where we often leak indications of stress through our body language. Also pause before answering and generally speak slower. Taking time is a sign of power and confidence.

Aplomb helps gain control but it is not a guarantee of success. Being confident is not the same as knowing the truth. In fact over-confidence can reduce seeking of data that could be used to achieve goals and avoid failure. An effective aplomb hence combines confidence with openness.

See also

Assertiveness, Values, Stress, Confident Body Language

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