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What A Gentleman Is Really Thinking Today

What A Gentleman Is Really Thinking Today

The definition of a gentleman has changed since it was first introduced back in the 12th Century. No longer is it just about a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities and conduct which conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior.

Today, it describes men of any social class or condition —often used in a courteous reference. What men say may not always reflect what they are really thinking. What they do can tell us more. But what they are really thinking is revealed over time.

First, let’s examine two common colloquial applications of the word gentleman and decide if it means what we think it means.

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“Gentlemen Prefer Blonds”

Anita Loos wrote a 1925 novel that was the basis for this 1928 movie and 1949 musical but the story actually supports the notion that it’s not the hair color but the character of the woman that gains “preferential” treatment.

“Gentlemen’s Clubs”

The history of Gentlemen’s Clubs started as a members-only private club of a type originally set up by and for British upper class men in the 18th century, and popularized by English upper-middle class men and women in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Now, some clubs are more accommodating about the gender and social status of their members. Many countries outside the United Kingdom have prominent gentlemen’s clubs.

Today, gentlemen’s clubs in the United States remain more prevalent in older cities, especially those on the East Coast. Only 12 American cities have five or more existing clubs: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. New York City contains more than any other American city. The Yale Club of New York City, comprising a clubhouse of 22 stories and a worldwide membership of over 11,000, is the largest traditional gentlemen’s club in the world.[7]

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In the United States, the term “gentlemen’s club” commonly is used to refer euphemistically to strip clubs. As a result, traditional gentlemen’s clubs often are referred to as “men’s clubs” or “city clubs” (as opposed to country clubs) or simply as “private social clubs” or just “private clubs”.

Today’s society has created many stereotypes for men. The movie and the video industries have done a fantastic job exploiting these stereotypes for profit. So how do real gentlemen in today’s society cut through all of this clutter and confusion to embrace their own true identity?

Today’s Gentleman

Justin Timberlake released his 2013 single Suit & Tie and emphasized the idea of men taking pride in their appearance and harken back to the original image of the English upper-middle class male. Although the lyrics are definitely pop-culture-strong (with Jay-Z’s collaboration), it does suggest a marriage in the third verse of the song lyrics. So it’s not easy to see what someone who looks like a gentleman is really thinking even in a 2013 popular video.

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Two Lifehack articles (authored by very perceptive women)  list many qualities that today’s gentleman embody. Please enjoy the insights of Ariel C. Williams and  Tegan Jones and see if you agree with them.

They say that most intelligent men understand that women like to have romance in a relationship. Appearance, behavior, and language can all express romance.

But intent drives them all. A real gentleman values their relationships and they know who they are and what values are important to them. Trying to impress or “romance” a women by telling them what they want to hear without really meaning it is no gentleman at all.

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A gentleman is all about the relationship. Women are equal and different in their eyes. Respect for life is all-important and every child that is conceived by a gentleman will be fathered by that gentleman for the rest of his life. He can be a friend to a women without wanting a sexual encounter with her. He understands the strength needed to be patient, kind, empathetic, intelligent, firm, and loyal.

He also can easily say three things without hesitation and when appropriate:

  1. “I’m sorry” (I guess I am human after all.)
  2. “I changed my mind” (…now that I know more about this.)
  3. “I was wrong” (What was I thinking?)

So a man in a tux may look like a gentleman, walk like a gentleman, talk like a gentleman, and even act like a gentleman (go here for 10 things a gentleman does). But all of those may not reveal his true intent. So just ask him about it and if he is a true gentleman, he will answer with sincerity and excitement. Your conversation from that point on should be truly amazing!

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Featured photo credit: Man kissing womans hand via shutterstock.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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