I have come to the sad conclusion that the specie called ‘gentleman’ is slowly becoming a thing of the past. There are a lot of nice guys, yes, and they can be funny, attractive, smart, interesting or cool—but I’m sorry, they aren’t gentlemen, at least based on my honest opinion.
In the first place, do guys even still want to be gentlemen in this day and age? It certainly isn’t required of them anymore. It is more of a rarity than the norm to find a person who holds himself against very high standards. Not that it is their fault, as the world has become so tolerant of people’s behavior that it’s almost impossible to abide by any sort of rule, especially when they think nobody is watching or noticing, or when they think they can get the same results with less effort. Why bother, right?
Well, I’ll tell you why you should bother: because it makes you a better person.
How does one define being a gentleman though? Is it just the way a man treats a woman, especially one he is interested to pursue? No, that can’t be it—because that means the behavior is deliberate and just for show. Being a gentleman is something that should come as second nature, a way of being that is innate, without having to think. It is a consistent manner, regardless of who he is dealing with or talking to– man or woman, young or old, of the same socio-economic status or not. It is not something you switch on or off whenever you want.
Here are some suggestions for training yourself to be a modern-day gentleman:
- Be punctual. One basic element of respect is to respect a person’s time. If you set an appointment, a meeting, a date, or whatever other commitment at a certain time, you definitely should be there on the dot, or even a bit earlier. If something urgent comes up that derails your schedule, (and I do mean urgent not just dilly-dally stuff), then make sure you inform the person as early as possible that you will not be able to make it on time. Do not expect people to wait around for you to get your act together. If the CEO in my company, or the Prince of England can manage to show up on time for anything, there is no excuse for the rest of us.
- Be consistent. As mentioned above, regardless of whom you are talking to—a colleague, a pretty girl, an old man, a child, or the janitor—your behavior towards people should be the same. That means pleasant, reasonable, non-abusive language and tone of voice. Consistency also means that regardless of mood or disposition, it doesn’t give you the right to lash out at other people who have nothing to do with your misery. So yes, punching someone out of rage, unless you or a loved one is gravely threatened, is not acceptable. Shaming someone, especially in public, or using coarse language and insulting words, is unacceptable too. Arrogance is a total turn-off.
- Make an effort. Enough with the ‘Sup’ and ‘Hey’ texts—that’s lazy. If you want to talk to someone, whether it’s to keep in touch with a girl you like, or catch up with your parents, coordinate with a friend, greet happy birthday or whatever else—pick up the damn phone and call. Sometimes it takes even less than 5 minutes but counts a lot. And if you cannot, for whatever reason, make a phone call, but you still want to say hello, then make your text messages at least the most thoughtful that you can. In fact, why stop at a phone call if you can randomly drop by and visit?
- Listen. It is so common nowadays to be out having dinner with a group of friends but everyone is checking their phones, catching Pokemons, fiddling with social media, chatting with someone else… I really miss the days when nobody had any gadgets to distract themselves with and could pay total attention to the conversation, to jokes, to faces. So if you want to be a gentleman, be present and listen well. Ask questions. Remember details. Be interested in the person you are with. There is plenty of time for all the things you need to do afterwards.
- Practice courtesy. The basics–say please, say excuse me, say thank you, return calls and messages. Try to be thoughtful and considerate of others. For example, hold the door open for the next person, especially if that person is elderly, a lady, injured, or a child. Give up your seat on the bus for someone who needs it more. Offer to help a person struggling to carry their stuff or struggling to finish their work. Smile and say hello. Send birthday and holiday greetings to people who are a part of your life in some way, including those who serve you. You don’t lose anything by being nice, and yet the impact it has on the other person goes a long, long way.
- Be respectful. Please do not assume you are the center of the Universe nor God’s gift to humanity. Respect other people’s space, attention, energy, privacy, and don’t assume you are entitled to more that what you are given. Avoid being loud, rude and intrusive. For those feeling ‘fresh’, please don’t send lewd messages or leery looks or touch a woman anywhere unless you have a clear indication that you are welcome to do so. Remember that the more you force something, the more unlikely you are to get it, and the more likely you are to get slapped.
- Be open. I honestly believe that being a gentleman stems from having a good heart, because it takes someone attuned to the needs of others to understand how to respond. And so that means, be open. Be generous and brave with your heart. It won’t kill you to care. It won’t kill you to give, to love, to spend time with people, to observe what makes them happy, to pay them a compliment, to say something kind. Yes, this is not a guarantee that the world will be good to you in return. But isn’t it enough to just be good?
- Be honest. Some people think that to be a gentleman you need flowery words and lots of chivalrous acts. On the contrary, the more honest you are, the better. There is no need to butter someone up if it is not a sincere compliment, there is no need to say something you don’t feel or mean, there is no need to play mind games. Just be honest, tell it like it is, but manage expectations and choose your words well. More importantly, don’t stop at words but prove yourself through actions. People will appreciate you for it.
- Keep your promises. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (or have no intention of keeping). And when you do make a promise, better make sure you can deliver. So if you say you will accompany your girlfriend somewhere for example, or if you promise to complete a project on a given date, or return an item on a given date, then do it. It’s that simple. A man is really only as good as his word.
- Be responsible. Life is tough, but being a gentleman means facing it head-on and not running away from your obligations. Work hard, regardless of what position you hold. If you were entrusted with something, take good care of it (especially if that something is a person’s heart). Show up where you’re needed. Give the best that you can. Yes, even if you’re tired. Even if it’s hard. Even if it hurts. That’s what it means to be responsible.
So there it is. We’ve all got our work cut out for us, but let’s try to make the world a more pleasant place to live in. It’s the least we can do with our time.