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How to Be a Gentleman

14 min

Here's how to indeed be a gentleman in today's world.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A TRUE GENTLEMAN?

Being a true gentleman today isn't just about wearing the right clothes or being polite. Don't get me wrong, these attributes are essential, but being a modern gentleman is about having values and adhering to a strict moral and ethical code. A true gentleman has grace and is deliberate in his attempt to move through life. He is a man of purpose, action, chivalry, honor, respect, and virtue, and he showcases poise, all while looking clean and put together.

A gentleman knows how to wear well-fitting clothes and values the importance of his appearance because he recognizes that how he presents himself communicates something to the world around him.

Above all, and at his core, a gentleman is a man and a good one at that. He respects the authority in his life and always does what's right.

IS THERE A WAY TO BE THE "PERFECT" GENTLEMAN?

This post won't tell you how to be perfect. The only perfect gentleman (and human being, for that matter) gave His life for the good of mankind nearly two thousand years ago. However, He left all we could ever need to guide us through life in the hope of finding purpose and meaning. He was, after all, the best teacher.

Like everyone else here, I'm still learning, but I'll do my best to impart some time-tested wisdom that I know to be true. In today's complicated world, truth is very much needed (and often in short supply).

As gentlemen, we ought to strive to be the total package, and here's how I believe we should do it...

HOW TO BE A MODERN GENTLEMAN

BE A MAN

This first one is critical. You can't be a true gentleman without first becoming a man in touch with his manhood. I have written a separate post detailing what the four key attributes of being a man are:

You can read that article here.

To summarize, a man is a leader, a warrior, a mentor, and a friend in the truest sense. Each of these four fundamental attributes of manhood must be adequately balanced; without them, a man cannot reach the pinnacle of gentlemanly status or behavior.

A real man leads well and with love in his household and community. A real man is a warrior with a fighting spirit, seeking truth, justice, and wisdom. A real man is a mentor who has the heart of a teacher and takes pride in coaching those around him. A real man is a friend who connects with others and exercises emotional intelligence, seeing the bigger picture as he studies and is considerate of the world around him.

There's no other way to put it: to be a real gentleman, we must first prioritize being real men—end of story. I didn't make the rules; God did, and He is quite clear about what it means to be a man within His economy.

HAVE HONOR, COURAGE & COMMITMENT

These core values are near and dear to my heart because they are the values of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. As a Naval Officer, I believe these values are essential for all men.

Honor means never lying, cheating, or stealing (or tolerating those who do so). It means having integrity (i.e., doing the right thing when no one is looking) and respecting human dignity. To be honorable is to exhibit the quality of maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability that commits men to acting responsibly. Honorable men must be accountable for their actions and always hold others accountable.

Courage comes from the heart. It is the moral, mental, and often physical strength ingrained in men from all walks of life. Courage is doing what is right or must be done, even when afraid. Courageous men, and by extension, gentlemen, must endeavor to do what is right and adhere to higher standards of personal conduct than the rest of society.

Commitment leads to the highest order of discipline for any person or team. As committed men, we must work diligently to maintain a healthy concern for others and an unshakable determination to achieve a standard for excellence in every endeavor.

BE CHIVALROUS

I don't care what others say, and I don't care where the world has seemingly gone. Chivalry isn't dead! Women who are properly brought up and who we ought to aspire to earn affection from 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 but applies to children, the injured, and the elderly. Help your fellow man/woman, period.

Don't just be chivalrous to impress your girlfriend's dad when you pick her up for a date. Respect and integrity are always necessary. At the end of the day, every gentleman should aspire to be a high-value man.

To learn how to be a high-value man, read my article here.

BE CONFIDENT, NEVER ARROGANT

We often hear, "All you need to do is be confident; confidence is everything!" I always hated this vague advice because it is overly generic and rarely expanded upon. Confidence can quickly evolve into arrogance if we aren't too careful, which is never attractive.

Confidence means moving and walking with purpose and poise. It means standing up straight (not slouching your shoulders), wearing flattering clothes, shaking someone's hand firmly, and reading the room to behave appropriately and meet the moment. Ahead of anything, it's achieving all of this while being respectful.

Confidence is certainly not putting others down and elevating yourself. A gentleman knows that he must always have respect and try his best to abstain from any faux pas or embarrassing behaviors. When we become arrogant, we lose virtually all the grace we've worked diligently to build up and run the risk of even slipping into behaviors that can be considered offensive. Don't be this way!

MAKE GOOD FIRST IMPRESSIONS

First impressions matter, especially when networking, making new friends, or expanding our connections. We achieve this by wearing clothes that fit us, maintaining proper hygiene and a neat appearance, shaking a person's hand with a firm grip, making good eye contact with others when we speak, etc.

People generally appreciate this sort of thing; it directly informs how they feel about you (and even how they treat you).

PRIORITIZE GOOD ETIQUETTE & MIND YOUR MANNERS

Etiquette refers to how we conduct ourselves within society and dictates positive (or negative) interactions with others. Manners are how we make others feel and reflect our specific attitudes.

Proper etiquette and good manners involve treating people thoughtfully and respectfully. Being considerate counts the most at the core of everything (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.

Opening the door for others (especially women), arriving on time to places, saying "please" and "thank you," and being considerate of other people's thoughts and feelings all matter. Like it or not, how we conduct ourselves daily says a lot about who we are. So, modern gentlemen seeking to leave a positive, lasting impression on others ought to prioritize minding their manners and abstain from making others uncomfortable (if they can help).

We should prioritize being pleasant, especially when briefly engaging with others. Being considerate of the people around us, even if only briefly, is a hallmark of a modern gentleman.

See my post here to read more about etiquette and manners for the modern gentleman.

BE A SEEKER OF KNOWLEDGE & TRUTH

A gentleman recognizes that he has much to learn and endeavors to remain curious. To expand his mind and improve, he must seek knowledge and, more importantly, truth.

A gentleman must always remain hungry and passionate for new knowledge while maintaining his ability to be teachable. Everyone in our lives can teach us something (good and bad lessons). Gentlemen must have the maturity to receive that knowledge while continuously seeking truth.

Only when anchored by truth, do the lessons become helpful for ourselves and society. Every gentleman must understand this as he navigates life.

DRESS WELL & WEAR CLOTHES THAT FIT YOU

Clothes don't always make the man, but what we wear communicates something about us to others. A gentleman must take pride in his appearance and know that every person he comes into contact with will take note of the first impression he leaves. Love it or hate it, that is the world we live in.

Dressing well isn't just about looking cool, and it certainly isn't about wearing baseball hats cocked slightly to the side. A gentleman understands the importance of owning clothes that fit him well and adheres to appropriate dress codes; this means wearing formal wear at formal venues and business casual clothes at events that warrant such a dress code. A gentleman makes every effort never to appear slightly overdressed or underdressed; he simply dresses well for every occasion.

To further assist with this effort, a gentleman understands that nailing the fit of his clothes often requires the skills of a well-trained tailor.

If you aren't sure how to find a trustworthy tailor, see my separate article here.

I'm not saying you need to spend all your money on flashy clothing (far from it). I'll be the first to tell you that all men, starting as adults, should prioritize having a simpler wardrobe and avoid fashion trends that won't stand the test of time.

A gentleman makes the most of what he's got and invests in timeless classics, such as quality neutral-colored basics that can be mixed and matched with other garments in a classic and highly interchangeable wardrobe. Eliminate flashy clothing, prioritize brilliance in the basics, and invest in clothes that will remain stylish decades into the future.

If you need help building a starter capsule wardrobe from scratch that can cover you for virtually any situation, check out this article here.

Dressing well shouldn't necessarily define you, but it should be a significant part of defining your image in the workplace and among your peers.

OWN A FINE-FITTING SUIT

Dress for the job you want and not the job you have. If you want to be the future boss, wear fine-fitting clothes and invest heavily in a suit that fits you well and is made of premium fabrics.

I get it; a quality suit isn't cheap, but only the people who go the extra mile in life are rewarded handsomely for their efforts, and gentlemen from all walks of life need to understand that one of the best ways to earn respect in the workplace is to wear a handsome suit and wear it well.

See my comprehensive guide here to learn how a suit should adequately fit you.

BE WELL GROOMED

Every gentleman understands that personal grooming is a massive part of one's appearance as a man. Bathe regularly, eliminate protruding nose hairs, keep a comb handy, have clean nails, ensure that your facial hair is pleasing to the eye, that your hair is regularly combed and clean (if you have hair, of course), and make sure that you are applying deodorant regularly so that you smell clean.

You'll be better by examining and paying close attention to your hygiene habits. Any new person you meet will notice and appreciate a groomed look. Oh, and this should go without saying but avoid farting in public out of respect for others.

MAINTAIN A HEALTHY PHYSIQUE

We just finished talking about how our appearance matters. Here is some tough love for you: get in shape if you haven't already. You don't need a six-pack of abs or rock-hard muscles, but I firmly believe that being healthy means that you will look better in your outfits and (more importantly) feel better and become better for the people around you and yourself.

Aside from the clothes we wear and our grooming habits, how we maintain our health and physique always indicates a person's self-respect. A healthy body often reinforces a healthy mind as well. We would all do our best to remember that.

See my separate article here for how to start a personal fitness routine.

BE SELF-SUFFICIENT

A gentleman knows that he must own and solve his problems, no matter how big or small they might be. Why? Because he's a man, and when a job must be done, he steps in and does it. He maintains his resolve and figures out what he needs to do, never expecting others to do things for him or have to be babysat.

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 we (as men) must manage, and it isn't something we should leave to someone else because we think they're okay with cleaning up after us. Being a gentleman means being self-sufficient, and only children are excused from this (within reason, of course).

No one wants to clean up after someone else, and no self-respecting man would expect anyone else to deal with their messes. Young men typically struggle with this, but being a gentleman is about growing into manhood and shedding those childish tendencies of creating messes and leaving them to others. Many women respect and admire this attribute in men who are newly minted adults.

MAINTAIN COMPOSURE

A gentleman should rarely ever lose control of himself. I get it; sometimes, it happens, and we lose our composure. But making a habit of this is the antithesis of gentlemanly behavior.

To be a gentleman means we must first be men, and men don't lose their composure quickly. Men take control of the situation and make things better, not worse. Pretenders of men are the ones who lose their cool, become overly demanding in situations that call for calm, and engage in offensive actions.

Men don't abdicate their God-given responsibility by forfeiting their resolve; cowards do. A gentleman is a man who must be able to showcase grace under fire, not be a coward or a punk. He makes a point to learn from his shortcomings and asks forgiveness when he is wrong, never demanding respect from others but commanding it through grace and tenacity.

It is the burden of leadership and, by extension, the burden of all gentlemen.

GIVE OTHERS YOUR ATTENTION

Have some respect, put the phone down, and care less about what's on social media and more about your meaningful interaction with another person. Make eye contact and lend others your undivided attention. This isn't just necessary for making friends but also for retaining them. Most people don't even know that they get easily distracted, but we have to have self-awareness and continually monitor our behaviors toward others. Doing so showcases maturity and, thus, is a hallmark of any true gentleman.

LISTEN TO OTHERS MORE THAN YOU SPEAK

Admittedly, I have struggled with this one. Anyone who knows me well enough can tell you I love to talk (probably why blogging is an enticing career option), but our social skills matter. The truth is that people never learn anything by talking more than by listening. One of the fastest ways to make good friends is to take a genuine interest in other people's lives.

Nobody cares as much about what YOU want as they care about what THEY want. If you are trying to gain influence over others and win them to your way of thinking, you have to start by taking a genuine interest in whatever they are passionate about. In other words, what interests them ought to fascinate you.

A gentleman recognizes the importance of building solid connections with others and remains disciplined, ensuring he does not dominate conversations too often.

COMPLIMENT OTHERS & SMILE WHILE YOU DO IT

A true gentleman understands that a part of gaining influence is allowing others to feel comfortable around him. Human beings seek comfort in various ways, especially when trying to forge new relationships or make new friends.

When we pay others genuine and honest compliments, their admiration for us increases. You can bet that the person receiving the praise will feel more inclined to engage and entertain you due to your generosity and good-naturedness.

After all, it feels good to be recognized for our efforts; words of affirmation uplift everyone.

UNDERSTAND AUTHORITY

Like it or not, we all have a preeminent authority in our lives. Every man and, by extension, a gentleman must recognize that authority matters. Some of you reading this might laugh a bit, but take it from a guy born in a Christian household who has spent the first decade of his adult life in the military: There is always someone in charge.

This is important to recognize because it informs how we act around others, treat them, present ourselves, and indicate our intrinsic values. Every man must choose who he will follow and emulate in his life. No other human, no matter how powerful they might seemingly be, is untouchable. We all report to someone; it's just a matter of choosing who.

So, who are you going to follow?

The gold standard of a man (and human being) lived nearly two thousand years ago. His name was Jesus, and He has much to say about being a man and doing things the right way. After all, He was the best and remains undisputed. If you ask me, Jesus was on to something big, and trusting in Him to be the authority in MY life has only ever enhanced it for the better.

It might be something to consider for yourself if you haven't already...

A LOT IS AT STAKE HERE

You came here to learn how to be a gentleman. Perhaps you got a little more than you bargained for.

The truth is, men aren't being manly like they ought to be in today's world. As a result, they aren't leading as they should, not protecting like they ought to, not mentoring or coaching well, not friendly, they're weak and unequipped for the rigors of life, they act entitled, and they treat others (mainly women) poorly.

They can't be good gentlemen because they aren't first good men.

Just look at the divorce rates, the countless children who navigate life without the presence of a father, the rise of abuse by men, and the number of abdicating males who complain about the world around them but lack the spine and intestinal fortitude to do anything about it. It's awful.

Know that there is a right and a wrong way to be a gentleman. Just as I know that God exists, I also understand what RIGHT looks like, and secretly, so do you.

If you didn't have someone to show you the way or teach you what is right, then allow me to continue pouring my heart out to you and every man out there who wants a better life for himself and the people he loves. We can do so together.

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." - 1 Corinthians 16:13


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