Being a modern gentleman comes from inside. Anyone can dress sharp and look like a gentleman, but what really matters are your core values and how you apply them when you interact with people around you.
If you dress well to show off, rather than to make the people around you comfortable and at ease, or if you care more about how you are percieved than doing the right thing, you might find that few people will genuinely refer to you as a gentleman.
It’s very hard to keep up an act and, even if successful, it won’t make you happy. You will constantly feel like a poser.
If you, on the other hand, work on your core values, your behaviour will automatically and effortlessly reflect them.
So, let’s jump right in. What are the top five traits of a gentleman?
Integrity is a personal quality of fairness that we all should aspire to.
Having integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way.
It means having a moral compass that doesn’t waver and is based on the well-meaning of yourself and of others.
Being responsible first and foremost means that you take responsibility for your actions.
It’s human to make mistakes. We all do them. At work. In our relationships. In traffic.
Some people try to hide their mistakes or even blame them on someone else in order to keep up the appearance of being perfect and without faults.
A gentleman, however, always owns up to his mistakes. He admits when he has done wrong and does what he can to correct the error.
All human being deserves to be treated respectfully. It doesn’t matter if they are your superiors, inferiors or equals. It also goes for people that doesn’t treat you with the respect you deserve.
Lead with example and you will see that the more respect you show others, the more respect they will show you.
We live in a time where we are told that if we are just confident, we can accomplish anything. Unfortunately, this is not true.
If you were to jump out of a plane with a parachute strapped to your back, would you rather be confident than competent?
The truth is that confidence without competence is overconfidence. It will often lead to feelings of entitledment and frustrations. And while it might help you climb the corporate ladder to a certain degree, it’s like climbing a ladder that is not secured on a stable foundation.
Sooner or later the ladder will slip and you will fall.
The gentleman’s approach is therefore to focus on being competent, rather than confident, in whatever endavour he will pursue. If you do your homework, learn what you need to learn and put in the hours of practice needed, confidence will automatically follow.
And because the confidence is based on a solid foundation of competence, the ladder will be much more stable.
5. Emotional maturity
Emotional maturity is a complex issue, but a simplified explanation could be something like the art of acknowledging your emotions, and making them work for you instead of against you.
While this is the hardest trait to master, in some ways it’s also the most important trait of a gentleman.
Emotions are complex things. If you let them control you, you will lose control of your life, and it will be hard to remain reliable and dependable.
On the other hand, it’s not wise to ignore them either, as they are excellent clues to what is going on and how it makes you feel.
The secret to master them is to realize that they contain information that is aimed for you. If, for instance, someone does something that makes you angry, you are not really angry at the person or the thing they did.
The anger is triggered inside you, not as a result of the person or their action, but as your reaction. If you don’t believe me, think of it this way; depending on your mood, the same action by the same person can trigger a wide range of emotions in you.
As a gentleman, you should listen to your emotions, but not act on them. If you gets angry, you don’t take it out on the other person, because that person is not responsible for your anger.
So what should a gentleman do?
Well, while it differs from situation to situation, in general a gentleman would:
- Acknowledge the emotion
- Figure out what triggered the emotion and what it’s trying to tell you.
- Deal with the issue and the person in an adequate, respectful way.
- Deal with the emotion and learn from it internally, separated from the issue and the person.