In our world, the word ‘gentleman’ can mean many things. It can mean a generic man, or a solid, dependable guy, or it can be a cloying word for the halcyon men of 1950s advertisements.

Let’s face it, in the 21st century, gentlemen are becoming harder and harder to find. Or perhaps the definition of what makes a gentleman a gentleman is changing and evolving with the times, rather than remaining rooted in older principles and traditions.

So what makes a gentleman? And how easy is it to actually become one? Well, we’ve racked our brains and come up with 10 essential things you need to do on a regular basis that will make you a gentleman and will actually have a positive effect on your life.

1. Always have good hygiene.

This one is a basic requirement, so come on, guys, be clean! Taking a shower or a bath every day isn’t really optional. You should take one every day, even if it’s just a perfunctory five minutes. Keeping clean not only makes you smell infinitely nicer, it also makes going about your day-to-day life much more pleasant for those around you. Keep some deodorant or body spray in your bag or on your person at all times so that you don’t start to smell throughout whatever the day may bring. Having good hygiene also helps maintain self-esteem and boosts your mood—some things you need to be a gentleman.

2. Always be on time.

Being late is never attractive—fashion and parties be damned!—as it shows a lack of respect for someone else’s time and life that you waltzed in 15 minutes late without a care. Becoming a gentleman means having a focus on other people and so arriving at least 10 to 15 minutes early is advisable. Bring a newspaper or a book if you get bored easily, but chances are that the person you’re meeting will be pleased that punctuality is one of your top traits. If your route to work is often hindered by traffic that makes you late, head out earlier or find a new route.

3. Always have good manners.

This one is not optional either: being a gentleman means being polite and well-mannered all the time, no matter what the circumstances. The way to think here is to lead by example. Imagine yourself as an outsider. What would you look for in a gentleman? Impeccable manners and behavior are always near the top of the list, so make sure that you always use your pleases and thank yous, even if no one else bothers. Why? Because it’ll make you look much more of a polite, decent human being, and over time will actually change the way you behave around other people for the better. It’s nice to be nice.

4. Always know your clothes.

One of the hallmarks of a true gentleman is that he dresses according to his own style and owns it. If you have a suit—and you should own at least one—make sure it fits well, but not tightly. Everyone’s body shape is unique, so going to a tailor for alterations is worth more than the money it costs, as the right tailoring will fit your suit to your body and not the other way around. Many gentleman often plump for toned down or strong color palettes and investing in some clean shirts, pants and jackets in solid, subdued colors (navy, maroon, black, grey, white, etc.) will give you great choices to build your wardrobe on before you go exploring new styles to find your own.

5. Always keep the swearing to a minimum.

Swearing isn’t cool and isn’t going to make you a gentleman. Well, okay, we’ll admit that in some circumstances, a well-timed curse word is both effective at summarizing the situation at hand and being a cathartic blast. However, cutting down on the everyday swearing will have a positive effect on yourself and those around you and is certainly something you need to do to be a gentleman. Showing consideration for the people around you by not dropping the f-bomb every 30 seconds when you’re angry is not only a sign of maturity, but one of innate calmness and confidence in yourself, something that is the hallmark of a gentleman.

6. Always be controlled.

You cannot control everything, the world does not dance to the beat of your drum, but what you can control is how you react to situations and the choices you make. Getting angry and verbally abusive? Not the work of a gentleman. A gentleman tries to keep cool and calm and removes himself from the situation quietly if he fears he is getting too angry. On a night out, a gentleman never drinks more than he can handle because getting wasted might ensure all his good attributes go out the window and he winds up back at square one. A gentleman might not be teetotal, but restraint and control is required over all vices to make sure they don’t become excessive.

7. Always be kind.

Kindness is one of those lesser-recognized attributes in the modern day world, but being a kind and courteous guy will always ensure you’re seen as a gentleman. However, don’t let this be one of those performances you put on in public—let kindness into your inner life and reap the benefits for your mindset and thinking. Always go the extra mile to help out a friend or a neighbor. Call your loved ones often—send gifts if you can; just generally be an upstanding guy who cares as much about the new couple in the apartment block as he does an old friend. Letting yourself become kind has nothing but good benefits and will ensure your standing as a gentleman.

8. Always be considerate.

Being considerate means being aware of your surroundings and the way you affect the people around you. A true gentleman always takes other peoples’ opinions and feelings into consideration before doing anything. For example, a gentleman takes his less-than-fragrant lunch outside of the office to eat so that co-workers won’t have to smell it should they be offended. A gentleman offers his seat on the bus to anyone who looks as if they may need one. A gentleman never makes jokes that people will be offended or hurt by, even if they’re not around to hear them, leading by example. Being considerate is one of the fundamental tenets of how to be a gentleman, and one every man should take on board immediately if he hasn’t already.

9. Always respect everyone.

Respecting everyone is something a gentleman always does, no matter the circumstances; and looking down your nose at someone who appears to be further down the food chain than yourself is possibly the most disrespectful, ungentlemanly thing you could do. Absolutely everyone is worthy of your respect, so treat them accordingly and warmly, no matter your personal opinion of them. This also goes for respecting yourself: do not tear yourself down every time you make a mistake and think that you have made a colossal error. You are human, and the best thing we can do is accept our mistakes and learn from them to do better in the future.

10. Always be the best version of yourself.

Being the best person that you can be is the way of the gentleman. A man cannot be perfect, but striving towards the basic core of humanity and decency is what makes a gentleman, once you dig beneath the suits and the smiles. A true gentleman knows his limits and keeps trying to stretch them, going further to both improve himself and to aid other people in whatever way he can.

Find your best qualities and work on them. Find your worst qualities and work on trying to improve them. The real secret of how to be a gentleman lies in being yourself—but the best version of yourself that you can work towards and improve on so you can be the best ‘you’ you can be.

Here are 12 timeless tips on how to be a gentleman that will enhance your life, both personally and professionally: How to Be a Gentleman: 12 Timeless Tips

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