You know her.
She’s the sparkliest gem in the collection. She’s the woman who creates her own essence and yet embodies some rare but familiar, heavenly air. The one who enters a room and quietly turns heads with all ease and nature, while her hosts find themselves honored by her presence. She’s the one we might occasionally glance over at in order to observe her from a distance.
You always know her when you encounter her, because that same subtle sense of admiration and aspiration sweeps over you anytime you meet her kind. She’s the one you want to grow up to be like.
She’s the quintessential captivating woman.
Defining her is like defining abstract art: you may feel her effect upon you even when you can’t always sense what’s behind it. Such it is when discussing the mysterious, ever-elusive “captivating woman.” But if I were to sum her up in one line, it would read, “She excels in three major realms: communication, embodiment, and introspection.” At least, so it seems to me.
Diction. I once remember watching John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, during a news interview, and the way she spoke fascinated me. Nothing sounded rehearsed, yet she used precise words, spoke steadily enough to not need breaks and pauses, and avoided filler words such as like’s, um’s, and ah’s. I also noticed that her affirmatives were only yes, and never yeah or mmhm. I even consciously listened for these tiny nuances, because never had I heard anyone speak so cleanly before. There wasn’t a single glitch to be heard. It was pure English, like smooth, continuous syrup from a tap; and I could have listened for hours.
Like Megan McCain, the captivating woman communicates effectively, so that we understand that her trip to Boston wasn’t only “good” or “fun,” but more specifically, she found it “stimulating” and “reminiscent.” See how she paints a fuller, wide-angle picture to describe it?
I found myself as captivated by Meghan McCain’s voice as I have been with any foreign accent, and that’s when I realized that one crown of the captivating woman is her manner of speaking.
Tone. Another manner of speaking involves tone. For example, is a woman generally loud and boisterous, or is she even and controlled? Much of this may come down to personality – which we know comes in a myriad of colors – but every woman has got to find her perfect pitch: the one that rings true to herself, but is also of highest quality. Loose lips and gusty expressions carelessly flung all over the place don’t seem altogether captivating, but neither do gray and listless monotones.
To me, the captivating woman’s tone was always laced with varying degrees of pleasantness and discretion. From there, she could add glimmers of laughter, crescendos of playfulness, notes of empathy, and refrains of melancholy, for example.
Body language. Posture. Countenance. Gait. Mannerisms. Speaking of communication, each one of these speaks a language of its own and reveals something about one’s levels of self respect, confidence, and self control. In fact, studies show that fifty-five percent of what you “say” is non-verbal.
When I casually observe the most captivating woman at the party from across the room (in my mind’s eye), she is at ease. She holds her posture with confidence; and her countenance looks pleasant – earnestly invested in her conversation. The way she holds her beverage at the stem, and glides without hesitancy about the room exudes a simple brand of femininity and self-assurance. If she possesses any nervous mannerisms, they don’t appear obvious from here.
The captivating woman is aware that what she conveys is largely unspoken, and she makes this count. It is sometimes as intentional as it is natural.
Poise. An online dictionary defines poise as a state of balance or equilibrium, as from equality or equal distribution of weight; a dignified, self-confident manner or bearing; composure; self-possession.
Poise is a thing of the captivating woman because this form of self composure requires emotional fitness. It refers to being an emotionally healthy, whole (in body, heart, and spirit) person. In today’s language, we might understand poise to be an elegant take on “mental health.”
The captivating woman always takes personal responsibility for who she is and is becoming. For her, there is constant managing and tweaking. She is honest with herself, expresses herself humbly and genuinely, and does not obsess but rather shows balance.
Style. Every captivating woman I’ve ever beheld has made an art of self expression. That is, she owns her style. She cares about reflecting and enhancing the best of herself, inwardly and outwardly. Whether she’s the woman wearing the scarlet dress, the diva in cheetah print and big sunglasses, the lady in the Burberry trench coat…. or the casual hipster in warm autumn hues, she shares a glimpse of her personality with the world.
Whether her style is simple or runway-ready, it does not matter. She takes care of herself outwardly as a statement about what she cultivates inside, and she respects everyone around her enough to show up looking her best.
Manners. It’s all the little things that make a lady, a lady. In fact, ladylikeness is a prerequisite for becoming a captivating woman, in my book. A captivating woman is never without manners. She demonstrates respect for others in that she possesses self control and values those around her. Her table etiquette could sometimes seem antiquated, she takes such care; but this only adds to her overall warmth. She resists interrupting others, and allows folks to talk about themselves. She prefers others at the expense of her own convenience, smiles at strangers, and makes steady eye contact. And of course the captivating woman never forgets her pleases, thank yous, or to say “my pleasure.” She’s got a firm handshake, knows some phone etiquette (including putting the phone away at the table or during conversations – a particularly captivating quality), discretely sneezes away from others, and blows her nose quietly in private.
Not every captivating woman in my life has demonstrated the ability to attain perfection or to always be “on,” but the crowning difference is in her consideration for others in all things, even the small gestures.
Grace. When I consider this class of a woman… no gossip, bitterness, complaining, sarcasm, or coarse jokes are found in her repertoire. Instead, she is the essence of loveliness; not in a rosy, fluffy, too-good-to-be-true sort of way, but in way that renders her warm and safe. She forgives others and does not keep a grudge. She might not be afraid to speak a negative truth, but negativity is not her home. She’s a reliable confidante and leaves one feeling edified rather than grungy at the end of the encounter.
Capacity. The captivating woman is high calibre, capable of moderate to difficult roles and tasks. She is not easily overwhelmed, and if she is, she rarely – if ever – seems to lose her composure. People often admire how much she extends herself to others and how generously she gives. She can be flexible, but follows through with what lies before her. Many often wonder how she does it all while remaining settled and content.
Depth. A woman of depth is to be admired because she has become a treasure trove of many wonderful things unseen. Valuable things. We might call this personal development.
Personal development is not unlike a rare jewel in that it forms organically, over time. As to what contributes to a woman’s depth (or development)? For one thing, I think it involves being well informed. Well rounded. Well traveled. Accomplished. A deep woman who thinks for herself. She makes her own connections and plans ahead. Without setting out to be, she becomes an influencer – not a follower of the crowd. She ponders, contemplates, decides, and meditates. She’s got something original to offer, and does not merely replicate the products and opinions of others. She is able to share, relate, question, and debate. People always love to hear what she has to say because, whatever it is, there is no doubt it will significantly add to the conversation.
And so, these are (to me) the things of the captivating woman.
At the end of it, I have to admit I’m both inspired and convicted by this analysis. For example, it caused me to rethink grocery trips wearing the residue from yesterday’s makeup and consider whether others subconsciously feel like I’m giving them the best of myself (even if it’s none of their concern and they shouldn’t be so “judgy.” That’s not the point.) And this is just one example of how I’d like to grow.
As much as I believe every woman shines no matter what diction she uses or what her capacity holds… I think we can all aspire to keep learning. Keep growing. Keep refining.
I wouldn’t dream of advocating that we lose ourselves in pursuit of becoming someone or something else. As with every other article on this blog, this is about aspiring to become the best version of the woman we genuinely are. Every woman who has had this sort of mesmerizing, fascinating effect on me has possessed all of these qualities, but retained her individuality. And that’s an important distinction.
I suppose I’ve missed some great points, so please share in the comments: What might you add (or remove) to this list, and why? What makes a woman captivating to YOU?