So you want to be a gentleman but don’t know where to start. Being a gentleman isn’t a personality quirk. It’s not something you turn on and off like a switch. It’s a lifestyle. Although it’s a reputation that’s hit the endangered species list, like my Ghostbusters sweatshirt, I’m hopeful it will make a comeback.
Being a gentleman revolves around one word: respect. It’s respect for yourself, those you care about, and those you want to care about.
Here are 12 timeless tips on how to be a gentleman that will enhance your life, both personally and professionally:
1. Define Your Personal Style
When I hear “gentleman” I think suit, tie, polished shoes… and stuffy. Seriously, I just fell asleep thinking about it.
Luckily, the definition has evolved and isn’t attached to a certain look anymore – it’s all about attitude and how you carry yourself. Choose a personal style that reflects your personality and lifestyle. Don’t buy clothes you think you should, otherwise you may as well wear a sandwich board that says I have no idea who I am!
2. Keep Your Hygiene in Check
Put effort into your appearance. Keep yourself clean, showered, and groomed. Women do enjoy scruffy, but controlled scruffy – you don’t want your date asking where you hid your cardboard sign and paper cup.
In other words: don’t smell. And perhaps reserve the gnarly Davy Jones beard for the NHL playoffs.
3. Be a Grown-up
It’s now commonplace for potential employers to check out your social media profiles. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a woman who won’t do the same before dating you. Even if the pictures are from years ago and you’ve since cleaned up your act, they’re not going to see “now” you. They’re going to see “then” you, a.k.a. K-Fed hat and beer bong.
While you’re at it, set up a grown-up e-mail address. The sounds-dirty-but-isn’t e-mail account you’ve had since high school is the farthest thing from gentlemanly. Ever.
4. Keep Language PG-13
As someone who’s an unintentional potty mouth, I was alarmed to find out how many people are offended by swearing. I now do my best to keep the f-bombs at a minimum.
It’s obviously a huge no-no in professional settings, but trust me, when you constantly swear in your personal life, it becomes increasingly difficult to reel in the habit at work.
Consider this a top priority if you want to be a gentleman. Not only will expanding your vocabulary make you a better communicator, you’ll impress others across the board with your intelligence and professionalism.
5. Connect With People
Say hello as you’re walking past a stranger. Let someone go in front of you in the grocery line. Make eye contact. Be approachable. It’s one of the best ways to open yourself up to new people, experiences, and professional connections.
To be a gentleman while you’re out, always remember it’s all about them. Be a good listener. Ask questions. Take note of what’s important to them, and they’ll take note of you.
6. Find Your Purpose
Beyond a nice home and financial security, what do you want? What are you passionate about? What mark do you want to make? Define what you live for. Not only will you feel more fulfilled, it’ll lead to so much depth and substance your head will spin. Everything will feel that much brighter.
Don’t take my word for it: be a gentleman and find out for yourself.
7. Be Clear About What You Want
Not making a decision is a decision in itself, and it’s not a good one! If you want the respect of others, know what you want and what you don’t, and be clear about it. Knowing how to say no is one of the most well-respected things you can do for yourself.
You don’t want to be a wishy-washy person who constantly flakes on those you care about because you over-commit, and you certainly don’t want to be the guy with no opinion or backbone.
8. Hold the Door Open
Holding the door open for people is a gentleman’s calling card. It’s one of the most subtle yet powerful ways to show your consideration for others.
Game. Set. Match.
9. Keep Your Promises
A big part of being a gentleman is respecting others’ time and meaning what you say. If you say you’re going to meet someone at a specific time, don’t be late. When you tell someone you’re going to help them with something, help them. When you promise you’ll have a project done by a certain date, meet your deadline.
Not only will this build trust with those you care about, it will also help build self-trust, a crucial-yet-underrated form of trust when you’re a gentleman.
10. Return the Favor
It’s all about the little things, both at work and at home. If a co-worker helped you setup a killer presentation, help them with their annual report. If your girlfriend picked up groceries, carry them in for her. Always make sure you’re helping enhance the lives of those you care about.
11. Pick Up After Yourself
Keeping a tidy office, home, and car will leave a good impression on anyone you meet. It shows you take yourself seriously, and take pride in what you’ve worked hard for.
Fast forward ten years to when you’re living with your future wifey: if you build the habit now, you’ll be one of the few who aren’t nagged about leaving their socks on the floor! Win/win.
12. Be You
Nobody’s looking to hire or date a Ken doll. Our professional and personal lives are now fused together thanks to technology, so drop all that compartmentalizing and be authentic 24/7. Let your guard down and stop trying to look so glossy. Not to sound all hippy, but just be.
What’s ironic about the art of being yourself is what makes you unique is usually what makes you self-conscious. The flaws you find irritating are appealing and endearing to everyone else – they’re what set you apart and make you memorable. Would you rather be memorable or a cardboard cutout? That’s what I thought.
Being at ease with who you are is the sign of a true gentleman. Gentlemen don’t lie or mislead – they’re as comfortable with themselves as they want you to be. Being a gentleman never goes out of style – put these tips into practice and you’ll be well on your way to gentleman status.