Yesterday, I interviewed etiquette guru Mindy Lockard to discuss ways to be a modern gentleman.
Many men are confused or nervous to behave like gentlemen for fear of accidentally patronizing liberated women. My definition of a true gentleman extends far beyond the ideals of holding the door open for women. I believe a gentleman is a man who genuinely makes others feel comfortable, respected and at ease regardless of their gender or station in life. Mindy agreed.
Mindy said "chivalry isn't dead, it's just on life support." Here is a summary of what we discussed and Mindy's tips for how you can be a modern gentleman.
- Show respect equally between men and women. Hold the door open for the person behind you, not just the woman.
- Make eye-contact with everyone you interact with; it's the foundation of showing respect.
- On a date, it's all about the offer. May I get the door for you? May I help you with your chair? Let your date decide yes or no. Its a win-win situation for both of you, even if she decides to answer no.
- Be a good listener, especially when networking. Ask meaningful questions after an introduction to discover how your lives fit together. There is no networking gain when the other person is annoyed with your selfish banter.
- At a dinner party, take care to talk to the people sitting on both sides of you.
- Be mindful of the words you choose. Poor language, especially Mr. Potty Mouth are most often associated with a lack of intelligence.
- Each week read a national publication (e.g. Wall Street Journal) and a local publication. A well-read, informed man can enlighten his conversations with witty, intelligent, vocabulary and will always have something to say, or ask about, to ignite interesting discussion.
- Gentlemen are not afraid to say they don't know something and to ask for more information. His humility is engaging and enables him to learn and grow much more than Mr. "Know it All."
- Remember names. Stop apologizing and instead listen. If you truly can't remember, simply say "please tell me your name again." There is no need to go overboard apologizing. Don't make it all about you.
- Be aware of good service and quality and extend a gracious note or comment to thank people for their effort. A true gentleman makes the time to send a written thank you for exceptional service.
- Be mindful of your electronics. Don't insult the intelligence of the people sitting with you when you assume you are fooling them as you check your email under the table.
- Be mindful of your voice. Voice control goes a long way. A gentleman doesn't talk loudly to show how important he is.
- When wearing a suit, please remember your jacket and pants go together; you can unbutton it, but please keep your jacket on. A true gentleman is willing to be a little uncomfortable for the sake of a respectably, polished appearance.
- The most important part of being a modern gentleman is to remember why you want to be a gentleman. Is it to show consideration for others or simply to show off?
I recently enrolled in Mindy's on-line etiquette magazine Manner of the Month. While I am fortunate to have been raised in a well mannered home, it's always nice to keep up with the latest etiquette rules, especially for the sake of my children. Good manners are good business. And when all else fails, a well mannered person is remembered well.
-Lisa Bruckner Trunk Club Consultant