12 TIPS TO BEING A GENTLE(hu)MAN
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Came across this as I was perusing social media. Instant inspiration for this week's blog. The world needs more of these types of articles to remind, and inspire us all to be better people. 'How to Be a Gentleman' was the title, but F*CK that, let's not hold just our young men to be kind, let's hold both our young men and women to show kindness, and start doing more of the little things that show respect to our fellow humans. It seem to be a lost art. So "Being a Gentle(hu)Man' it is. Being a gentle(hu)man isn’t a personality quirk. It’s not something you turn on and off like a switch. It’s a lifestyle. Wrote that on our homepage day one.
Before going any further, let's do ourselves justice and go as far as to remind people of the true origin of the word 'gentleman.'. As the original meaning, wasn't something a brand like us would EVER stand behind, nor try to abide by the rules of becoming one. So with that, we kick some 'k-nowledge' on you, my friends:
'gentleman = 'gentle' + 'man' Gentle arrived in English from Latin (gentilis "of the same family or clan,") via Old French (gentil/jentil "high-born, worthy, noble, of good family; courageous, valiant; fine, good, fair").'
...that's all good. Dig it. Valiant, courageous, fine...
BUT in U.S., it initially meant "man of property, not engaged in business or a profession."
Get that? Bluntly, as in, "you were born with a silver-spoon." Either you had claim to land or real estate through your family history and didn't have to grind, or do a damn thing to make it in the world. Nope. No sir, that is not our modern definition, nor one we care to ever be an accurate definition again. We shall acknowledge that very antiquated definition, it's origin/history, but move on with it's modern definition. One of a bit more higher meaning, ambition and far more respectable. Now back to this post...
Being a gentle(hu)man revolves around one word: respect. It’s respect for yourself, those you care about, and those that you come in contact with from day-to-day.
Here are 12 timeless tips on how to be a gentle(hu)man that will enhance your life, both personally and professionally:
1. DEFINE YOU. When you hear “gentleman” you may think suit, tie, polished shoes… and stuffy. Seriously, I just fell asleep thinking about it. Sure I love to clean up, get fancied up and enjoy a night out with my better half while she's dolled up. It's a great break from the going, but that's not what this is all about. That’s the exterior, the superficial, of a much bigger thing being outlined here.
Luckily, the definition has evolved and isn’t attached to a certain look anymore – it’s all about attitude and how you carry yourself. Choose a personal style that reflects your personality and lifestyle. Don’t buy clothes you think you should, otherwise you may as well wear a sandwich board that says I have no idea who I am. Also, show pride and respect in how you dress and for which occasion. Don’t show up at a wedding wearing flip flops and beat up jeans (unless this is a themed beach wedding, and if it is, why the hell do you have jeans on?). Consider the setting, and a gentle(hu)man would always rather overdress then underdress and be disrespectful.
2. TAKE CARE OF YO'SELF. Put effort into your appearance. Keep yourself clean, showered, and groomed. Women do enjoy scruffy, but controlled scruffy – you don’t want your date asking where you hid your cardboard sign and paper cup. Sounds cheesy, but your body is your temple. The older you get, the more you realize it won't be a solid built temple forever. It begins to crumble, so take care of it while you have the option. In other words: don’t smell. Stay active. Keep the momentum of your health up while you have the option to have some control over it.
3. BE A GROWN-A** MAN OR WOMAN. It’s now commonplace for potential employers to check out your social media profiles. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a woman who won’t do the same before dating you. Even if the pictures are from years ago and you’ve since cleaned up your act, they’re not going to see “now” you. They’re going to see “then” you, a.k.a. K-Fed hat and beer bong. They are going to see all of your outcries for attention. That time you broke up with your boyfriend, wanted to make him jealous, so thought it was OK to post pics of yourself blackout drunk, in a bra and shorts, with guys doing body shots off your pierced belly button. If you didn't take those down out of respect for your poor dad, do it for 'future you." And if you are middle-aged and still doing that shit and posting those pics, SMH. We can't help you, man. Don't get me wrong, I'm not fun hating here. To each his own on how you choose to have a good time. I'm all 'bout that. I'm no angel, that is truth. Point being, your close circle accepts that, and enjoys it. Don't market that to "Facebook friends" (in quotes as I bet you have friends on their you have never spoke to in person) and the rest of the world. That's your business, don't ever give it a chance to effect your professional life. That's not hiding anything, that's separating work from personal and being wise. Period.
While you’re at it, set up a grown-up e-mail address. The sounds-dirty-but-isn’t e-mail account you’ve had since high school is the farthest thing from gentlemanly. (Eg. Chad69goodtime@email.com...that's doesn't work) Ever.
4. LANGUAGE. So apparently the f-bombs are on the list of no-no’s for the true gentleman. Well, this is my post, so I bluntly say F*CK THAT. I don’t trust people that can’t drop a well-timed f-bomb. And to be honest, when you hear people speak in public, and they drop one unexpectedly, do you not instantly smile and think to yourself…”this mother-lover is real!” You do, don’t lie! It gives their persona a true genuine feel. You instantly connect. So I think“colorful” language is on point, and it’s shown that people that cuss are more honest people. Why? Because they aren’t giving you a facade, they tell you what they are thinking via the highest degree of unadulterated verbal explanation.
Now there are caveats here, like with everything on this list. There is a matter of respect, and to not abuse this privilege to the point it becomes obnoxious or disrespectful. The setting and the audience both have every part of when OK to use. It’s obviously a huge no-no in large more corporate/conservative professional settings. Don’t think you are going to be super edgy and cool by dropping an f-bomb if you work at a bank and speaking in front of executives and the CEO. Nor is it OK to drop them intentionally in front of young kids, as they do not understand the nuances and proper situational use of the words, and how it’s a privilege of being an adult.
Consider the nuances before you speak. Consider the setting and audience, and you will in turn show respect.
5. BE GENUINE. BE KIND. BE HUMAN. Say hello, or at the very least give eye contact and smile, as you’re walking past a stranger. Especially if they are giving you that respect. Nothing worse than being kind, saying hello, and having someone look away. It's rude and people that do it should be slapped in the back of the head. It's junior high shit, and disrespectful. You are an adult. Act like one. SMH. Let someone go in front of you in the grocery line. Make eye contact. Be approachable. To be a gentle(hu)man while you’re out, always remember it’s all about them. Be a good listener. Ask questions. Take note of what’s important to them, and they’ll take note of you and your polished demeanor.
Be positive. Find a reason, daily, to be grateful to have rolled out of bed. Or you're no longer living, you are slowly dying. That's the truth. Think about that. Nothing worse than being surrounded by those that just find reasons to complain. Half the time, that mindset is so engrained in them, and has become habit, that they don't even realize how many of their 'problems,' are actually self-created. If you invest so much time/energy looking for things to complain about vs looking at the good and being grateful, or helping find and execute a solution, of course that leaves you no room for self evolution. You're too busy having pity parties. Pity parties won't make change happen. If you want change...Go. Make. It. For. Yourself. If you don't know how, figure it out, because no one else will. That's not because people are selfish and don't care about you either, or because they suck as humans. It's because we all have our own sh*t to deal with. The sooner you realize you don't need to internalize every issue and blame others, and throw pity parties, the quicker you will realize you can control your own path and move forward when you don't get what you want from others. If I can teach our boys anything, it's this lesson as I truly believe it's the biggest factor in talented people between success and them just fading out. Talent is only 50% of the equation in success. Attitude (and in turn persistence) is the other 50%.
...you can become your own worst enemy, or your own biggest fan. Only you decide that. And whichever it is, will be the side that motivates you or holds you back. Period.
6. FIND YOUR CAUSE. Beyond a nice home and financial security, what do you want? What are you passionate about? What mark do you want to make? Your legacy? Define what you live for. Not only will you feel more fulfilled, it’ll lead to so much depth and substance your head will spin. Everything will feel that much brighter.
It may not be achievable right out of school. That doesn't mean give up. That's reality. Build on it, make a plan, baby steps. I'm starting this brand movement far beyond my 20's. A dream I've had since then, but it took me years of forging through what I expected to fall in my lap, and waking up to it's only going to happen if I put my blood, sweat and lots of tears into it. And it's slowly happening after YEARS of baby steps outside of my regular 9-5pm. Again, we aren't gentle(hu)mans of past meaning. There is no silver spoon to turn around and use our inheritance to graduate from some fancy college and immediately open up our own retail store. You gotta build it up, and work for it. And more often than not, you will want to give up as it's too hard. And that, my friend, is why not everyone is going to be the next "Shepard Fairey," "Coco Chanel" or "Tom Ford." (all examples of people that didn't find the immediate path, were necessarily born into it, or handed it, but ended up in places with true 'legend status'). They have all created legacies...but did it through much patience and perseverance. Baby steps. "Rome wasn't built in a day." There's a reason that saying has been used for years. It forces perspective on building your own legacy.
7. FOCUS. Not making a decision is a decision in itself, and it’s a sh*tty one! Be decisive. If you want the respect of others, know what you want and what you don’t, and be clear about it. Knowing how to say 'no' is one of the most well-respected things you can do for yourself, and others for that matter. It's saves you and them wasted time. That in itself is a form of respect.
You don’t want to be a wishy-washy person who constantly flakes on those you care about because you over-commit, and you certainly don’t want to be the guy with no opinion or backbone.
8. HOLD THAT DOOR! This is a continuation on the above, but so important it deserves it own section. Holding the door open for people is a gentle(hu)man’s calling card. It’s one of the most subtle, yet powerful, ways to show your consideration for others. HOLD THE FRIGGIN' DOOR OPEN for anyone behind you. Don't just run in and let it slam in someone's face when you know someone is behind you. Look back as you open it for yourself and be aware. Period. I've countless times had someone have the door held open for them, they run in and don't take their hands out of their pockets only to then let the door slam in my face just steps behind them. And not just teens, that don't any better, but I've had adult men and women do the same. Just this week, a matter of fact.
It's the subtle things that have huge chain reactions and an effect on your everyday life and those around you. Trust me. You'll see it in an older person's eyes when you hold the door for them. They are almost in shock nowadays, and it's refreshing to see people so happy about a very little, but meaningful, show of respect.
Game. Set. Match.
9. YOUR WORD MUST BE BOND. A big part of being a gentle(hu)man is respecting others’ time and meaning what you say. If you say you’re going to meet someone at a specific time, don’t be late. When you tell someone you’re going to help them with something, help them. When you promise you’ll have a project done by a certain date, meet your deadline. Being dependable and reliable is something that will make you stand out. Life is hectic, if you are seen as a rock in an otherwise unpredictable life, you will change lives. Work or personal, people will rely on you. So important, don't forget this. Nothing worse than people that can't keep their word.
Not only will this build trust with those you care about, it will also help build self-trust, a crucial-yet-underrated form of trust when you’re a gentleman.
10. RECIPROCATE. It’s all about the little things, both at work and at home. If a co-worker helped you finish a project, you see them stuck at work past 5pm, help them get the hell out of there. If your girlfriend picked up groceries, carry them in for her. Always make sure you’re helping enhance the lives of those you care about. Another chain reaction. they will then do the same, it goes viral and suddenly everyone's lives are subtly enhanced with kindness. Wow, amazing theory!
11. BE ORGANZIED. Keeping a tidy office, home, and car will leave a good impression on anyone you meet. It shows you take yourself seriously, and take pride in what you’ve worked hard for.
Fast forward ten years to when you’re living with your future wifey/hubby: if you build the habit now, you’ll be one of the few who aren’t nagged about leaving their dirty dishes on the counter! Win/win.
12. BE YOU. Saved the most important for last; nobody’s looking to hire or date Barbie or a Ken doll, trust us. Let your guard down and stop trying to look so glossy. Too much instagram perfect-angle, super-filtered so you have the skin of a baby selfies. Those "gym selfie" FB posts, w/ no true motivational message to inspire your followers, simply a selfie for the sake of a selfie and be showered with compliments (AKA selfishly-motivated post). Can you say a world full of narcissism? People want the look of success, but don't want to work for it. Those that are sad don't post how sad they are. They try to convince the world how happy they are, subconsciously thinking it will then make them happy. The constant-selfie poster...well, the world has caught on. Those are the ones usually wanting the likes/comments on how beautiful they look. Major red flag for anyone looking to date you, sorry to say. As a guy, married now but being blunt on a red flag, I'd assume that meant you have a major insecurity if you need to constantly be told how great you look. Do yourself a favor. Look at your FB feed. If you can look at your FB feed and more than 75% of your posts are selfies, "Warning, Will Robinson, warning" Run, run far away. Social media has been great for connecting with people, but it also very subtly shows some of our most subconscious insecurities. Be warned. Life does not work like that. Period. Not to sound all hippy, but just be true. If you are feeling down, have a convo with a friend or family member. Don't post fake feelings on FB to get a instant gratification pick me up. That doesn't solve the issue. And it won't make you happier in the long run. A great quote from Lou Holtz, to consider before posting, that may help add perspective before airing personal problems to your social media following; “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” Humans, we are a selfish bunch, aren't we? It's #realtalk though.
The flaws you find irritating are appealing and endearing to everyone else – they’re what set you apart and make you memorable. Here is the genius in this. So remember the rest of this, if nothing else in this article; It also attracts the right people! People that do not admire or respect those qualities will then be filtered out, leaving the cream of the crop. Those that truly love, admire and respect you for you. They stuck around because you didn't hide who you were or faked what you liked to be "down with them." Their intentions and enjoyment being around you is also genuine. That's another gold wisdom nugget that could change your life for the better, forever! Never understood people that pretend to be what they think others will like. In the end, it's not them, they are living a facade, and therefore will never have genuine connections or relationships with people. Miserable journey in life faking the funk, my friends.
Being at ease with who you are is the sign of a true gentle(hu)man. Gentle(hu)mens don’t lie or mislead – they’re as comfortable with themselves as they want you to be. Being a gentle(hu)man never goes out of style – put these tips into practice and you’ll be well on your way to gentle(hu)man status.