While being a gentleman once meant a suit, tie, and polished shoes, now actions are what make a man (of course, a suit never hurt either). A fine balance of personality, tact and style are key. Here’s how to be a gentleman:
Be aware of what’s going on around you and act accordingly. Awareness means understanding how your actions, words and presence affect people. If you’re walking around with a stony face all the time and never making eye contact or smiling, this comes across negatively. This is a small detail, but when meeting someone for business or pleasure, it’s important to be aware of how your mood and presentation transfer to those around you. It may not come naturally to you. Ask a trusted friend to help make you aware if you need someone to pinpoint areas you can improve. Or use a platform like Headspace to help you hone awareness.
Just like your actions, your appearance has an affect on the people around you. This doesn’t mean you need to dress in a suit and tie. As the term has evolved, looking the part of a gentleman is much more about finding your own style and owning it. Don’t buy the clothes you think you should. Instead choose clothing that reflects your lifestyle and tells people something about you. If you have attention to detail, let that show in your style. Do you keep your house clutter free? Let that carry over to your appearance; don’t dress sloppy just because your friends do.
With a thorough understanding of your actions and appearance on others, it’s time to form some good habits. Holding doors open for others, giving up a taxi for someone else if you aren’t in a hurry, offering your seat on the bus or subway — these are all habits that prove you’re a gentleman in action as well as in look. In many cities, NYC especially, its easy to get around without a car. It’s still a good idea to have your driver’s license though. It comes in handy when your friend needs help moving or you want to take a trip upstate.
Since it’s no longer the 1930s there are some new obstacles when it comes to being a gentleman — take social media, for example. Be a grown up online, as well as off. It’s common for potential employers to Google your name, check your Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platforms you have before you grant an interview. Anyone interested in dating you will do the same thing. Make sure your online life is an extension of the gentleman you are offline.
In short: Find one. Passion often translates to discipline, and is something every gentleman should have. This means something you deeply care about outside of work, play, and personal relationships. Whether it’s exploring the great outdoors, brewing homemade beers or spending time each day on an artistic endeavor, take the time to do the things you enjoy most. While some people might see these as hobbies, hobbies are surface interests that go no deeper than journeymen. Find something you love to do and become an expert at it. Having a passion for something that is all your own can make you a well-rounded gentleman and an interesting one at that.