Categories
Culture Travel

A gentleman’s guide to behaving abroad

In a globalized world, where more and more people get access to travel, cultural crashes happen. Most of us have probably witnessed tourists doing strangem disrespectful and rude things.

We may have laughed, got upset or just shrugged it off, but no matter how you react in these situations, keep in mind that they most likely didn’t realize that they did something wrong.

They were simply behaving the way they would do at home.

And be certain, if you travel (if you don’t you should), then you have probably been that person too, that locals either laugh at, get upset by, or just shrugging it off.

Cultures differ widely between regions, countries and continents, and what is seen as normal in one place is often seen as deeply rude by people from different cultures.

Sh how do you avoid being “that guy”?

Assume that anything you do could be deemed as rude

Talking too loudly or two quietly? Slurping or not when eating soup? Accepting or recieving a gift? Tipping, not tipping, tipping too much or too little? Greeting a woman with a handshake, or without a handshake?
Wearing shoes indoor or no shoes? Haggling or not haggling at a market?

These are a few examples of opposite everyday behaviour that are deemd as curtious in some cultures and rude in others.

With this, I want to illustrate that any behaviour – as innocent as it might seem to you – might be regarded as deeply rude when you are a guest in a different country.

Read up on the culture

Before any trip you make, read up on the basic culture. Learn a little bit about the country, the people and their habits. This does not only help you understand the social convetions, but also the context and origins of their customs.

Also, read up on specific topics, such as:

  • Tipping – when, how and where should you tip? How much?
  • Haggling – should you haggle or not, and if so, how and how much?
  • Eating and drinking etiquette – is it acceptable to drink alcohol, and if so, how much? Should you finish your food or leave a bit on the plate? How do you use the silverware?
  • How and when to greet others
  • How to behave at someon’s home. Do you bring a gift? Which type? Do you bring a bottle of wine for the meal or not? Do you wear your shoes inside? Should you be on time or late, and if so, how much?
  • Learn some simple phrases in the local language. Hi, yes, no, please, thank you and I’m sorry will get you a long way and will get people on your side.

By reading up on these basic topics before you leave for your trip helps you be prepared, and minimize the risk of commiting a faux pas.

Observe the locals

Observe how the locals behave and imitate them.

Ask

If you are put in a situation where you are not sure how to act, simply ask. While asking will reveal that you don’t know, it will also show that you care and that you want to avoid offending anyone.

While language can be an issue, ask the hotel staff, your guide or anyone else who speaks English or your language.

Apologize

Be seneitive, and if people seem to react negatively to something that you do, ask what it was and promptly apologize, preferably in the native language.

Don’t be afraid

While it might seem scary to have to behave differently or not knowing how to behave, most people in most cultures will understand, especially if you show that you try and apologize when you fail.

The worst thing that can happen is that you get told off, but this happens rarely. In most cases, a slight faux pas can lead to a shared laugh, a chat and perhaps even friendship for life. It’s not the end of the world as long as you show that you try.

Categories
Values

5 traits of a gentleman

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?

1. Integrity

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.

2. Responsibility

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.

3. Respect

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.

4. Competence

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:

  1. Acknowledge the emotion
  2. Figure out what triggered the emotion and what it’s trying to tell you.
  3. Deal with the issue and the person in an adequate, respectful way.
  4. Deal with the emotion and learn from it internally, separated from the issue and the person.