Can anyone have gravitas? Catherine Allison says yes in her upcoming talk at the library.

Gravitas is often thought as a natural ability—people either have it or they don’t. But Catherine Allison, founder of consultancy agency Master the Art, thinks differently: with a little bit of practice and developing an ear for your inner voice, anyone can conquer gravitas and with it the skills for poise and presence.

Bringing with her 20 years of experience working across client services and business development, Catherine will be joining us in the library on the 20th of November to spell out the key attributes that make up gravitas. Ahead of her talk, we asked Catherine a few questions about what it means to have gravitas—and what a difference it can make in the workplace.

What does it mean when we say someone ‘has gravitas’?

The Cambridge Dictionary describes gravitas as “seriousness and importance of manner, causing feelings of respect and trust in others”. In short, when those who have gravitas speak, people listen—because they want to hear what that person has to say. There are many traits, both outward, physical ones, and certain behaviours that combine together to give someone presence and gravitas. The good news is that gravitas is for everybody and can be learnt. 

What makes having gravitas so important?

People who speak with gravitas are often viewed with greater respect, attributed greater credibility and as such are admired and listened to by those who work with them. If you want to communicate with confidence and authority, finding your gravitas is key. People with gravitas can walk into a room, command attention and respect and leave everyone wanting more.

What’s one small change everyone could make to their working habits to help them develop and improve a greater sense of their own gravitas?

I’m a firm believer in the power of the pause. The ability to be comfortable with a pause is central to gravitas. So many of us feel the need to fill a silence, to gabble on about anything simply to hide the silence. This immediately detracts from our gravitas. Try to practise pausing in everyday work situations—when talking to colleagues, or introducing yourself to a meeting for example. As soon as you can feel yourself about to fill a silence, take a breath instead. Pause. Get comfortable with the pause, be present in the pause and keep practising until it becomes a more natural process.

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