Being a gentleman isn’t a pompous attitude or expensive clothes. Nor is it suave talk and standing tall. It’s the best mix of your character, treating others well, and presenting yourself as a man others want to follow. This is the essence of how to be a gentleman.
Chivalry isn’t dead
It may seem like it, so you’ll need to revive it. This not only applies to the lady in your life, but other people you meet as well. Going out of your way to treat people well is important. Carrying yourself in an accommodating a “serving” way is rare, valuable, and will make you stand out. Here’s what you can do: Open the door for people. Holding the door open for an old lady or a young man still makes you stand out as a gentleman. Go out of your way to be considerate of people.
Being a gentleman is more than cleaning up the cursing, but sounding intelligent without coming off as arrogant. We each have our own unique style and personal vernacular. But improving and expanding your vocabulary will make you into a better communicator. The ability to paint elaborate pictures in your acquaintance’s minds is a sought after trait. Find what you’re willing to die for Don’t go through life living only for today or tomorrow. Find an aim bigger than money. Seek out a purpose, and run hard after it. I find that people that I respect as gentlemen have something to live for.
Improve your recognition of social cues
Whether or not you’re a social butterfly doesn’t mean you can’t improve. People that are extremely introverted sometimes need to take pause and read social cues. Am I stepping on anyones toes or making people feel left out? Do I move from one person/group to another so fast people think my substance is paper thin? If you’re of the more chill temperament, it doesn’t mean you can’t grow. My name, Todd, in Middle English (spoken about 1,000 years ago) means “the watcher”, “watchful one”, or the “fox”. I actually consider myself by nature a more reserved person. But by observing other’s social cues, I’ve been able to pick up on how to interact with a wide array of people. Most people upon first meeting me would think I’m pretty extroverted, whereas I’m pretty introverted to the core. People who are awkward or come off as rude have one core problem in my mind. And it’s not that they aren’t able to be cool people. It’s that they think of themselves and are absorbed in their own world so much they don’t listen and pay attention to people’s words and body language. Learning what people mean by more than what they say will help you go further in your friendships and professionally.
Be Quick to Forgive
A man who is slow to forgive is…well, less of a man. Be quick to show mercy. Give people grace for mistakes. Be understanding. Show compassion. Don’t have a heavy hand with your kids or other family members.
Say “No” more
People respect someone who knows what they want—and what they don’t. Saying “no” makes your “yes” mean so much more. If you haven’t learned to say “No”, you might be living as a Yes Man. Who wants to be that guy? Especially when you are so overcommitting yourself you’re known as a flake. If you find yourself saying “yes” to overextending yourself, it’s time to summon the will to say “no”.
Saying “Yes” more
If you’re afraid of commitment, it’s time to take the dive and start giving more of yourself to people. Whether that’s saying “yes” to helping a friend move, just getting out more, spending more time with friends, or gaining different experiences, it might be time to step out into the wild a little more.
Say “Hello” more
We admire people who exude confidence and aren’t afraid to reach out and connect with people. Saying “hello” to a stranger you rub shoulders with on the train, in an office, or at the grocery store is a great way to increase your social skills—and meet new people. Have you ever wanted to introduce yourself to a cute girl in the most random of places? If you’re not in the rhythm of shooting from the hip and building rapport with random strangers, it’s gonna be hard to summon that off-the-cuff confidence to get talkative with a hot stranger. Practice saying “hello” and showing yourself friendly. You’ll be surprised by some of the cool people you’ll meet along the way.
Travel more and expand your experiences
Expanding your experiences and where you’ve been gives you great stories as you grow being a gentleman. Growing more cultured widens you’re understanding of the world–and others–and helps you to be less assuming or quick to judge. And it’s always nice to tell people about that one time you jumped off a moving train in India.
Speak Well of Others
When learning how to be a gentleman, it’s less about “me” or “I”. It’s about others. Them. Carrying yourself in a way that esteems others will earn you esteem. Want to stand out? Speak well of others in their presence, and away from them as well. People will take note. The man who can give specific and exacting praise is worthy of receiving it himself. Talk about their interests, not yours
Again, learning how to be a gentleman is about others. Growing your listening skills is paramount to being regarded as a gentleman. But learning to ask great questions that draw a person out of their shell is important as well.
Tell stories with a point
Everyone loves a good story teller. And just because I suggest you guide conversation by asking people about them, rather than talking about you, doesn’t mean you should be a hard nut to crack. People love good stories that share some adventure, and insight about who you are. Know what stories about yourself people are most interested in. When telling a story, remember that you’re not telling your life story. Share stories that have a point and an end. Have you ever felt trapped in a conversation with someone telling a story that really wasn’t a story? They weren’t actually even talking with you, they were talking at you? That’s a person telling a story with no point or purpose. I’m guilty of this. And I sometimes wonder if we do it for our own catharsis–to process aloud with someone in the hopes of “feeling better”. It’s cool to do that with your therapist or close friend, but don’t use the random stranger at a party to have a cathartic moment. Be a gentleman!
Stand up straight
Now onto how to be a gentleman in how you carry yourself. No man wants to be regarded as a slouch. Standing up firm and strong isn’t just good for your health, but good for your confidence. There really is a physical/mental connection with posture. And people can see it. A person cowering or hunched is viewed as weak. A man who stands tall is regarded as having confidence. Pay attention to your posture, and stand up straight.
Wash your clothes
Back in poor days of living in a dorm, I ran across an expert in the laundry room who had sage wisdom for me. He let me in on how to cut my laundry coin usage in half: “You don’t need to wash your clothes, just put them in the dryer with a dryer sheet. I mean, when I take them out they smell just as clean as when I wash them as when I don’t.” And I don’t remember who that charming young lad was. Nor do I remember anyone thinking he was the sharpest dressing gentleman out there either. Gross. Wash your clothes. Clean stains–including the collar of your neck. And iron those shirts man! Be a gentleman!
Get a grown-up email address
Wildstallion1999@hotmail.com isn’t the way to present yourself when applying for a job. It’s also not the most savvy way to interact with new friends. Being sharp and looking on your game sometimes takes putting away some childish things. Go ahead and keep your fave teenage email address, but for those people you’re aiming to be a gentleman around, keep it classy.
Make a man out of your online social imprint
A man’s online social profile reaches far and wide. When potential employers want to know more about you, do not doubt that it’s likely they’ll look you up on your favorite social network. Having a goofy profile picture with your family is great. But looking like a drunken sailor or a Jersey-licious club rat won’t score you extra points with the classy young lady you want to pursue, or those that you want to recognize you as being a gentleman.
Give your word and keep it
Being a gentleman requires your yes meaning yes, and your no being no. When you tell someone you’re going to do something–do it. Even when it costs you. Improve your penmanship
I’m an absolute hypocrite on this point. My handwriting has not changed since 6th grade. Considering I barely handwrite anymore, considering all the tech we use, my scribbles are probably in severe decline. It is so bad more than once I’ve asked an assistant to handwrite a post-it note to the president of my organization so I wouldn’t have to hand him something illegible. Thinking about it still makes me smirk today but probably isn’t the most gentlemanly practice.
Mind Your Manners
I’m not the most savvy when it comes to perfect etiquette. What side of your plate does the big fork go on? How do I tie a cummerbund? How do you impress really old rich people?? What I do try to pay attention to is being accommodating. If you’re with people you’re familiar with, be warm to the new persons and make them feel included. Are you around a new group of people? Don’t pull out your latest gag routine. Keep things simple until you’ve figured out the the personalized subculture of the group you are hanging with. Find out what’s important to them, what behavior is appropriate to the situation, and present yourself in the best light. I hope it’d be needless to say, but belching in front of ladies you want to show respect rarely garners you some. Using words like “Excuse me” and “Thank you” go a long way. Ask before taking. And instead of ordering someone to do something, ask them if they’ll do you a favor. On a note that I’m sure any restaurant servers out there will appreciate, showing kindness to those in any service industry will distinguish you. But don’t do it to be distinguished. Show kindness and patience to those making your coffee, serving your food, installing your cable, or fixing your car.
Nix the my way or the highway attitude
People who are adamant and demanding they get their way almost always sound like alpha-douches. Or large babies. Instead of being pushy and consistently trying to get what you want, concede to what others want. Nothing spoils chilling with a group of people more than the whiner who’s only going to be happy if the crowd does what they want. If that’s ever been you, take note. I guarantee people remember that moment you had to have your way.
Mind the details
It’s easy for any of us to be forgetful. And it’s easy to forgive ourselves when we are. When others are forgetful? We’re not so merciful. Show others you care by remembering not only the big things–but the little things. Doing this at your workplace as well will only help your touted reputation as knowing how to be a gentleman.
If you’re chief love language isn’t giving of gifts and connecting with people through acts of service, it will take repeated mental note-taking to give more effort in this area. But few things shout “gentleman” more than a thoughtful note or gift to a lady love or friend. Whether it’s a special occasion or they need a pick-me-up. Don’t neglect to think about your bros too. If a buddy is down, make sure to be there to cheer them up. You can get them some gentleman gifts as well.
Being a Gentleman
This is only the beginning on our path to being a gentleman. Improving yourself doesn’t happen overnight. As we’re already a couple of months into 2017, have you probably decided on any areas you want to focus and improve on this year? It’s a great aim to look better, talk well, and dress sharper. But making yourself into a better man is more than just improving the physical details. It’s about cultivating your core. Find what you’re passionate about, and run after it. Find who you want to become, and chase it. Find out where in your character you’re deficient, and work on it. Let’s face our fears and grow into better men this year. Not everyone can be a hero, but everyone can be a gentleman. It’s a choice.
I always buy neutral colors (black, white, cream, tan, and all shades of brown and grey) that would suit my basics: simple tops, trousers, cardigans, etc. Make your outfit look 10x better with something as simple as adding a leather jacket or a nice cardigan, paired with some black or nude heels & simple jewelry. Try finding a pair of black or blue jeans that are comfortable and hug your body in the right way. And for date nights I suggest you get a little black dress and a nice pencil skirt with a button-up.
1. A gentleman never tells 2. A gentleman knows that anything worth having, is worth working hard for 3. A gentleman knows how to dance…at least a little bit 4. Every woman comes with baggage, a gentleman helps her to unpack it 5. A gentleman always RSVP’s 6. A gentleman knows the difference between confidence and arrogance 7. A gentleman is open-minded, but firm in his beliefs 8. A gentleman is proof that chivalry is not dead 9. A gentleman ruins his lovers lipstick, not her mascara – the only tears he should make her cry are that of joy 10. A gentleman never lies to a woman, unless it is to surprise her 11. A gentleman always makes the first move 12. A gentleman means what he says, and says what he means 13. For a lady, a gentleman will always offer his seat and open a door 14. A gentleman never judges 15. A gentleman is always well presented, regardless of company, situation or occasion 16. A gentleman has a firm handshake and always makes eye contact 17. For a lady, a gentleman will always offer his coat 18. A gentleman knows how to cook at least one good meal 19. Regardless of motives, a gentleman always walks a woman home 20. A gentleman always offers to pay
WHENEVER YOU’RE IN ANY TYPE OF SITUATION, GOOD OR BAD, ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: IS THIS PERSON OR EVENT GOING TO MATTER IN FIVE YEARS? SAY IT’S A FAMILY MEMBER’S WEDDING WHO REALLY MEANS SOMETHING TO YOU THEN YOU SHOULD OBVIOUSLY GO TO THAT EVENT BECAUSE IN FIVE YEARS TIME YOU WILL SAY TO YOURSELF “I SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THAT”. IF SOMEONE IS GIVING YOU A HARD TIME AND THEY’RE NOT THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU THEN JUST LET IT GO. IT’S NOT GOING TO AFFECT YOU AS MUCH AS YOU THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY. IT WILL FEEL BETTER TO GET AWAY FROM THAT TYPE OF NEGATIVITY AND JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE POSITIVITY. ALTHOUGH IT SOUNDS REALLY SIMPLE, IT CAN BE HARD THING TO KEEP IN MIND AND DO. AT THE END OF THE DAY IT’S HELPED ME TO LET GO OF ALL THE PETTY THINGS THAT DON’T REALLY MATTER TO ME AND JUST MADE ME PAY ATTENTION TO THE IMPORTANT THINGS AND THE PEOPLE THAT I LOVE. IT HELP ME FIND SO MUCH MORE HAPPINESS IN MY LIFE.
In fact, no etiquette is as simple as people want to make questions like this. Basically, you’re never going to find a simple formula that applies to all people in all situations. And anyone claiming there is one simple formula is either misleading you or has been misled themselves.
But what am I specifically talking about today?
You know how trans, genderless, gender-ambiguous (as seen by others), and/or gender non-conforming people (and anyone I forgot) are always getting rude, invasive comments and questions that can often lead to physical or social violence if we don’t answer, or don’t answer correctly?
Like, “Are you a boy or a girl?” I have had people get in my face and demand to know that, getting louder and more threatening the more I stayed silent. And being totally unable to respond even if I’d wanted to. I was 13 the first time someone asked me if I was a “she-male”.
Well… you know how there’s that ever-present question, that everyone asks to try to be polite? “What are your preferred pronouns?”
Just be aware that for a whole lot of people any or all of the following may be true, and you can’t tell by looking or even by whether they answer you or not:
The answer may not be simple.
The answer may change day to day.
They may not know the answer.
There may not be an answer.
They might regard the answer as personal and none of your business.
They might find the reminder of their gender experiences upsetting.
Regardless of whether there is an answer, they may find the question just as invasive and with the potential of social (and even other kinds of) violence as my aggressive encounters with people asking “Are you a boy or a girl?”
Answering may force them to think within a framework that’s alien to their experience of gender.
They may regard such an answer as just a more socially acceptable (in trans circles) form of the “Are you a boy or a girl?” question.
Any answer they give, even if truthful as to their preferences, may be misleading in other respects, and thus they don’t want to answer.
They don’t want to give the impression that they’ll judge you if you forget their pronouns.
They don’t want to answer but they don’t want to call attention to themselves by not answering.
One of my favorite quotes, relevant here:
“The tight weave of traditions that makes a comfortable hammock for some just as surely makes a noose that strangles others.” -Anneli Rufus
That goes for new traditions as well as old ones. I understand why asking pronouns is the height of politeness and respect for some people. Really, I do understand that, it requires no explanation. But try to keep in mind that for other people, it can be intrusive, confusing, and emotionally devastating. I wish I could tell you how to tell the difference, but I’m not sure anybody knows that.
If this confuses you at all, think of a situation where there’s a question that some people don’t care if you ask, and others find incredibly rude and invasive: “How much money do you make?” “When’s the baby due?” And remember that often asking pronouns is another way of asking gender and not everyone finds it non-invasive for you to ask – or demand – to know their gender.
Just know that there are people who feel so strongly about the ritual of making everyone go around the room and say their preferred pronouns, that they will stop coming around to LGBTQ events where this ritual has become expected of everyone. And be aware that saying “I’d rather not say” can, in itself, single a person out even more for attention they don’t want in the first place, as well as mislead people who make snap judgments about things like that.
As to how to deal with a social world where some people want very much for you to ask their pronouns, while others want just as much for you not to… I think everyone is going to have to figure that out as we go along. But awareness that this custom is not universally respectful is the first step towards figuring anything out. And a lot of people overlook this as even being a possibility. So – I don’t pretend to know the answers, but at least I’m asking the question.
[This post originated from conversations with people who find the question much more consistently invasive than I do. Whether I find the question invasive depends on the environment. But just understand that not everyone wants the very first thing that happens in a meeting, to be asked an intense personal question that might dredge up all kinds of unwanted emotions and social possibilities. And they may not always be able or willing to let you know. How you deal with this information is up to you, just know that you’d be surprised who feels this way and who doesn’t, sometimes.]
1943: Burgess explains how an English pub differs from American saloons. This educational documentary (which was narrated, written, and co-directed by Burgess) was made to introduce American soldiers to Britain during World War II.
The only fan page solely dedicated to Burgess Meredith // Lovingly ran by his grandniece in attempt to keep his legacy alive.