Untarnished Etiquette: Being a Gentleman 101
by Zeda Dowell
Mar 01, 2012 | 1248 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print

One of the courses in etiquette I provide is called “Being a Gentleman 101.” We discuss the art of being a gentleman, skills needed to achieve this status, and the benefits socially, personally and professionally to a man.

I have heard some myths about being a gentleman — most of which could be considered inaccurate.

One man was worried that holding a door open for a woman might yield, “Don’t you think I can open it myself?”

The answer to his concern is simple: If you open a door for a woman and she does not respond with a simple “thank you,” this then only reflects poorly upon her.

Another person suggested that gentlemen are weak.

I married a gentleman. He races cars, flies planes, rides motorcycles and so much more. My father was a gentleman. And I brought up my son, who excels in martial arts and other forms of self defense, to be a gentleman. 

My friends have all married gentlemen. These men provide well for their families and lack nothing in the way of manliness. They are not weak in any way.


No lack of benefits

How does being a gentleman benefit you? A gentleman is a man who lives with integrity and moral courage every day. A true gentleman is one who lives with dignity and respect for himself and others. In return, people naturally respect him.

Although it appears most of the benefits of being a gentleman are intangible, this is not so. A gentleman is cool, calm and confident. His honesty, loyalty and credibility will most likely provide tangible benefits that will allow him to be involved with important discussions and decisions, which will likely have a dramatic positive impact on his professional career.

The behavior of a gentleman is not overt but shows itself to be a quiet and consistent strength, which is very attractive to ladies, not only making way for personal and social success.


New etiquette for men

Some would say the standard of etiquette for gentleman has changed.

According to Tim Zagat, co-founder of the famed Zagat survey, “The new word is Los Angelization of dining.” In his opinion, casual dress is the new prescribed way of dressing. No suits or coats, “just don’t be a slob.”

Another considered change is who orders first from the menu. The old standard was always ladies first. The new standard, again according to Zagat, is whoever knows what they want first should order first.

This contemporary new standard does not have my vote. As to who should first order from the menu: Are you really that hungry that you cannot wait for a lady to decide? In most cases, the food will arrive at the same time. A gentleman allows the lady to order before he does.

A true gentleman knows what is appropriate. He dresses for the occasion: business attire, formal dress, casual and semiformal.

Recently, off the coast of Italy, the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground in shallow water, with deaths and major damage to the ship. In the face of disaster, it is still the unwritten rule: women and children first. Unfortunately, this did not occur.

I hope that even in our contemporary times, it would not be every person for himself or herself.

Being a gentleman is a choice. His noblest virtues are camaraderie, dependability and unswerving loyalty, mixed with logic, forethought and a great deal of consideration for others. It is nice if he knows how to dine, which fork to use and how to order the wine. There are a multitude of rules for etiquette for being a gentleman. These can be learned, but without a good foundation, there is nothing to build on.

In my seminars, we teach dining, dressing and dating guidelines. We teach the etiquette of new technology and communications, the lost art of conversation and much more. This knowledge of how-to behavior allows a man to be comfortable and confident wherever he goes.

In an unofficial survey I conducted, I wanted to know what qualities women wanted in a man. I asked a series of questions about dating, working, friendships and marriage.

In every answer, the qualities of a gentleman won.

- Zeda Dowell of Ben Lomond answers questions, teaches classes and provides information about international protocol, dining, being a gentleman and cultural diversity. Contact her at zedadowell@gmail.com.

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