10 Gentlemanly Gestures Others Will Appreciate
Photo by Shamim Nakhai on Unsplash.
If “clothes make the man,” it stands to reason that “manners make the gentleman.” Sound rational? It did to us. So, we went looking for a simple set of universally accepted rules guaranteed to transform even the most common man into a paradigm of civility and graciousness. With this in mind, we visited several well-known men’s lifestyle blogs and journals to identify the top 10 habits all gentlemen should practice regularly. Here’s what we found.
Rule #1 – Dress to impress.
First and foremost, we learned that a gentleman is always well-groomed and well-dressed. This doesn’t mean you should spend your life walking around in a bespoke linen suit. It does, however, mean you should always dress appropriately. Know the difference between business casual and business formal. Make sure you own at least one dark suit. And when choosing everyday wear, choose quality over quantity. Lastly, don’t be afraid to accessorize. Dressing well is a sign of respect, for yourself and the people around you. But don’t overdo it, or you may find yourself walking a fine line between pride and vanity.
Rule #2 – Give yourself time to spare.
Gentlemen are nothing if not punctual. Strive to be on time – every time. In fact, arrive five minutes early just to be safe. Promptness is also important when you’re responding to emails, texts or phone calls. Make an effort to RSVP to invitations and inquiries in a timely manner, even if the answer is “maybe.” And more importantly, once you commit, follow through. Cancelling at the last minute, or worse yet, standing someone up is a sure way to damage both your reputation and your relationship.
Rule #3 – Come bearing gifts.
The consensus among etiquette gurus is that gentlemen are unfailingly considerate. If you’re invited to a friend or colleague’s home, don’t show up empty-handed. Stop along the way and pick up a little something to express your gratitude. Just as your hosts want you to feel welcome, you should want them to feel appreciated. It’s no surprise that thoughtfulness and a healthy social life go hand-in-hand.
Rule #4 – Practice saying “you before me.”
Many gentleman bloggers suggest adding kindness to your list of desirable traits, but be forewarned, there’s not a lot of it floating around these days. In fact, if you want to catch someone’s attention, try holding the door open for him or her. You’ll most likely be rewarded with an incredulous smile and a confused nod of thanks. Some say chivalry is dead, but it doesn’t have to be. Opening a door for someone only takes a few seconds, and it’s worth the effort just to see the look of surprise and appreciation on his or her face.
Rule #5 – Pace yourself.
A gentleman doesn’t make his partner race to keep up with him. Whether you’re walking with your significant other, your grandmother or your child, adjust your stride and speed to match theirs. Also, take pains to protect your companions from puddles and oncoming traffic by positioning yourself on the side closest to the curb. If the image of gentleman-hero is what you’re going for, making others feel safe is a great place to start.
Rule #6 – Lend a hand.
Almost every etiquette site we perused offered this bit of wisdom. When you spot a damsel in distress (or anyone for that matter), offer to help. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do. Carrying packages? Do it. Offering directions? Do it. Clearing the table? Do it. Don’t stop to think about it. Like the Nike slogan says, “Just do it.” Follow this rule, and you’ll be the most popular “gentleman” on the block.
Rule #7 – Pay attention.
If you have any latent narcissistic tendencies, now would be a good time to nip them in the bud. A gentleman, it seems, doesn’t have to flaunt his assets. Instead, etiquette practitioners recommend focusing on your partner. The best conversationalists listen more than they talk. Make eye contact and offer well-timed, appropriate responses. Add to the conversation with relevant facts and anecdotes, and where you disagree, say so respectfully – but be sure to throw in a large helping of humility and empathy for good measure. Active listening, they say, is the key to a successful dialogue.
Rule #8 – Treat everyone well.
A gentleman treats everyone the way he would like to be treated. And we mean everyone – waiters, clerks, colleagues, subordinates, superiors, women, men, young and old – everyone. Do you remember learning the Golden Rule when you were – oh say, five-years-old? Who knew your kindergarten teacher was grooming you to be a gentleman even then? In the years since, you may have succumbed to the belief that others should earn your respect, but we’ve learned that it’s actually easier (and more gentlemanly) to start out respecting everyone – at least until they give you a reason not to.
Rule #9 – Never sit when you can stand.
For urban dwellers, there’s no better place to practice your manners than on your daily commute. As a gentleman, you should be prepared to play a game of Musical Chairs where you lose every time. If you do manage to grab a seat on the subway, train, or bus, you should realize that you’re actually only acting as a place holder for the next woman, senior citizen, mother or child who appears. And for optimum effect, when you do offer up your seat, always do it with a smile.
Rule #10 – Mind your P’s and Q’s.
Last but not least, it appears that those common courtesies you learned at grandma’s dinner table still apply today. If you’ve forgotten the basics of dining etiquette and everyday pleasantries, do yourself a favor and google them. And in the meantime, refrain from teeth picking, nail cleaning, burping, grunting, and cursing in public. In general, don’t engage in any behavior that could possibly be construed as unpleasant. The jury is in on this one. A true gentleman should be able to exert almost super-human control over his appearance, actions and words at all times.
Some say gentlemen are a dying breed, but it wouldn’t take much to stage a revival, and maybe a few more gentlemen are just what this world needs. You don’t have to own a dinner jacket, dance the samba or do a great Cary Grant impression to be a member of this elite group. You simply have to be willing to put others’ needs before your own. Following these 10 rules is a good first step. Chances are you’ve already begun. How many of these rules do you adhere to on a daily basis and which of the others are you willing to try?