Gentlemen, how we act in public and make people feel matters a great deal in our lives because it can affect the trajectory of the journies we take for ourselves. Simply put, the world is made up of many other people, and considering the thoughts and feelings of those folks by conducting ourselves in an exemplary fashion is commensurate with being a modern gentleman.
ETIQUETTE VS. MANNERS
Etiquette refers to how we conduct ourselves within society and dictates positive (or negative) interactions amongst others. Manners are how we make others feel and are a reflection of our specific attitudes.
WHY DO THESE MATTER?
The first impression is vital, and how we appear to others carries significant weight, but only when balanced with the behaviors of the modern gentleman do we become the "total package" as men.
Proper etiquette and manners boil down to treating people thoughtfully and respectfully, and at the core of everything, being considerate counts the most (but never at the expense of honesty). Throughout our daily lives, we must remain vigilant for opportunities to make a good impression and catch ourselves when we slip up.
BREAKING BAD HABITS
Bad habits are perhaps at the heart of most of our issues as men. These are unintentional and so often overlooked because we don't usually perceive them as "big deals," but they are.
Among the obvious of dressing poorly, there are instances in which most men display behaviors such as "adjusting" themselves (you know what I mean), picking their noses, using profanity, smoking or spitting tobacco in public places, etc.
These are just a few examples, and although they may seem rather obvious, what follows are some critical examples of areas where we should genuinely consider our behaviors daily.
CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF
It may seem silly to have to talk about this, but if we all paid better attention, then I'm sure most of us would be surprised at the messes we make but don't rectify immediately.
Clean the sink after use, wipe the toilet seat, identify dirty laundry, and tend to it, don't wait for someone else to do so. These are essential tasks that you must manage, and it isn't something you leave to someone else because you think they're OK with doing it. Being a gentleman means being self-sufficient, and only children are excused from this (within reason, of course).
MEETING & GREETING
When meeting and greeting others in any social setting, it is vital to remember four key steps:
- Stand up straight.
- Smile and make eye contact.
- State your name and introduce other members of your group.
- Shake hands.
IF UNABLE TO SHAKE HANDS
Unless it's not a part of your culture or the culture of the setting that you are a part of, it's alright not to shake hands. Additionally, if you are sick and don't want to transmit what you have or you suspect that your hands are dirty and you want to remain considerate of others; in these instances, it is better not to shake hands so as to respect the health of others.
What matters most in these instances is effectively communicating that you cannot shake the other person's hand. The handshake has become such a mild form of greeting in most cultures that it can easily be misconstrued when it is not followed.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of this, take the reasonable excuse that someone has just given you for not shaking your hand with poise and understanding. Re-engage the person at an appropriate time if the opportunity arises and move on.
As far as WHO shakes hands with WHO, in today's world, both men and women shake hands with each other. It hasn't always been this way, but offer to shake the hand's of others when in doubt.
It's not about you (or me, for that matter). The world includes other people with their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions. We don't have to agree with everything people say, but just because we disagree doesn't mean we are allowed to be rude. Listen to what others have to say and refrain from dominating conversations.
Have you ever engaged with someone else at a social event, and you try to listen and receive what they have to say, but as soon as it's your turn to talk, they dismiss what you have to share and/or refrain from listening to you? Don't be that way towards others. Remember how those instances made you feel and do well not to make the same mistakes.
MANNERS, MANNERS, MANNERS
Opening the door for others (especially women), arriving on time to places, putting down the toilet seat, saying "please" and "thank you," dressing well, and being considerate of other people's thoughts and feelings all matter. Like it or not, how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis says a lot about who we are. So mind your manners and try not to make others feel uncomfortable (if you can help it).
I don't care what others say, and I don't care where the world has seemingly gone. Chivalry isn't dead, and we ought to remind ourselves of that each day. Women who are properly brought up, and who we ought to aspire to earn the affection of, certainly take notice of this sort of thing.
Aside from just women, hold doors, offer your seat, offer to help carry items, and provide general assistance to anyone. Chivalry isn't exclusive to women; it also applies to children, the injured, and the elderly. Help your fellow man/woman, period.
WHEN ON A DATE
Whenever you find yourself on a date, doing the little things makes all the difference. Be sure to value the time you are taking with the other person; after all, they have made an effort to meet with you and give their time to you.
When you first start, be sure to pay compliments to your date, but don't be over-the-top. Stick with the basics by complimenting how they look, thanking them for being there, saying something nice about how they smell, etc. If it happens to be a special occasion that has brought the two of you out, be sure to call attention to it at the start.
Of course, please open the door, grab their seat, and ensure they sit first.
An age-old question to which I have an answer; however, like most things in life, it all depends on the situation. The person who invites the other out is the one who ought to pay. This is no different on dates than for business outings or any other recreational outing where food and drinks are involved.
Now, I know how some of that sounds, and if the woman asks the man out, there is nothing wrong with the man offering to pay. If the woman wants to treat you, be polite and let her treat you (and be grateful for it). If you or she would like to share the cost (a.k.a. going dutch) in which both of you split the bill together, then have the conversation and arrive at the decision together; easy day.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We should prioritize being pleasant to be around, especially when briefly engaging with others. I will be the first to admit that I sometimes struggle with this. It is difficult to remember that the world is made up of others, and not just ourselves. Being considerate of the people around us, even if only for a brief period, is a hallmark of a modern gentleman.
Of course, being a gentleman also means being honorable and seeking the truth above anything else; with this must also come integrity. Without truth, there can be no integrity. Simply doing the right thing is the standard for any man worth his salt in life, and a considerable part of this is remaining kind only when it is anchored by truth. Making this a priority in our lives is how we become virtuous men, in addition to exercising etiquette and minding our manners.