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"A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A man's place in today's ...
"A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A man's place in today's world is a tricky one. More than ever, a man needs to know the right way to behave in every social situation and what it means to be a modern gentleman.
This helpful handbook presents the classic manners and style that will turn the most socially inept male into a true gentleman. Walking and talking, meeting and greeting, wining and dining, How to Live Like a Gentleman is filled with all the practical advice a regular guy needs on what to wear and how to wear it, what to say, and how to act.
Read it and become the man you've always wanted to be.
Chapter 1: Stepping Out
Looking sharp is a big part of living like a gentleman but it’s not rule number one. The first thing you need to know is how to act like a man. Without a good handshake, solid posture and eloquent conversation skills you can wear the sharpest suit money can buy but you’ll be wearing it alone. Knowing how to handle your social responsibilities with aplomb, on the other hand, will get you as far as you want to go.
The first impression
Every dating service, career coach and image consultant on the planet agrees: how you first establish yourself with others is the key to any relationship. In fact, most say that presenting a good first impression is the single most important thing you can do. Conversely, bad first impressions will doom a job interview or blind date before it even gets started. Some say people can make conclusive judgements about a person within seconds of first meeting them. However long it takes for someone to check you out for the first time, just don’t give them any easy targets. For starters, know how to introduce yourself.
Getting a grip on how you present yourself to others starts with giving a good grip. In fact, a good firm handshake may be the most important impression you leave with someone. It’s appropriate to shake both men and women’s hands upon first encounters, especially business encounters.
Absent Father - How to Give a Good Grip
1. Be close enough to the person whose hand you want to shake so that you can stand up straight and comfortably extend your hand without having to lean over.
2. Extend your entire hand out to the person and look them in the eye.
3. While continuing to look them in the eye, squeeze their hand, palm to palm with a firm grasp.
4. If you feel comfortable doing it, shake the hand up and down at least once but not more than three times and then let go. It’s perfectly acceptable to give a firm grip for a couple of seconds and let go without any pumping action.
5. While you’re shaking and making eye contact, be sure and smile and give a good positive greeting
What Not to Do
1. Don’t squeeze someone’s hand so hard that you crush it. Rather than coming off as strong and determined, it leaves the impression of a lack of confidence.
2. Another no-no is grabbing someone’s hand and pulling it towards you. It’s controlling and overbearing and might alienate your new acquaintance.
3. Enveloping a handshake by putting your free hand on top of the other person’s hand during a handshake is good if you’re seeing an old friend but not okay when meeting someone for the first time. It’s too personal and some men will be put off by it.
2. There are a few styles of shakes that will doom you from the get go. One is the limp shake by which you just hold out your hand but don’t squeeze. If you’re on the giving end, this feels similar to firmly grabbing a flabby, lifeless tenderloin steak. It’s unpleasant, to say the least.
3. Don’t hold out your hand lazily. Chances are you’ll get your fingers crushed. Not only does this hurt, it’s wimpy.
4. The most infamous bad shake is the dead fish or the clammy hand. This is a combination of the limp shake and the sweaty palm. If your hand is wet either from nervousness or from holding a cold drink dry it before greeting.
How to say hello to new acquaintances and colleagues will often depend on the circumstance. Going on a job interview or business trip is going to be different than greeting someone who has come over for dinner at your house. For the former you might want to say something like “Hello, my name is Sam Martin. I’m with ABC company.” In more casual environments, no one’s going to be interested in your job at least not right away. For any occasion, nothing beats a genuine smile and solid eye contact. If you’re stressed or angry and you let that show through on your face, others will pick up on it and feel as though they’re not welcome. For that matter, letting your eyes wander around the room or look over a person’s shoulder might give the impression that you’re waiting for someone more interesting to arrive. A gentleman will want his new acquaintances to think he is pleased to meet them and genuinely happy to have them around.
A simple greeting is best. Stand up when you meet someone new, give them a good smile, a firm handshake and say who you are immediately. If you walk into a room, don’t stand around waiting. Approach the others and make your introduction.
What to say when.
After you say “hello” or “hi” and give your first and last name, here are a few scenarios and suggestions of what you can say.
In almost any situation: “Pleasure to meet you” or “Nice to meet you.”
At a job interview: “Thanks for your time.” or “I’ve been looking forward to our meeting.”
New friends coming over for dinner: “Glad you could make it.” or “Welcome.”
On a blind date: “Thanks for meeting me.” or “You look great.”
The Hello Kiss
Not everyone gets a hello kiss and those that do usually aren’t expecting a smacker on the lips. A cheek to cheek kiss in the air or a small peck on the jaw is the appropriate approach to this most European of greetings that’s usually reserved for more familiar friends. That said, if you’re in Europe Paris especially don’t wince or pull away when greeted by a total stranger with a cheek kiss. When in Rome do as the Romans do. The same can be said closer to home. If a lady friend or acquaintance makes the move for a hello kiss, give her your best one. This isn’t a sensual event. It’s a gentlemanly skill that will give you an added air of confidence and sophistication.
Walking and posture
The language of the body is as important as what you say. Many a snap judgement has been made after seeing a guy slouch in his chair at dinner or shuffle his feet through the office door. A gentleman should always keep his back straight, his shoulders back and his chin up. Those engaging in the occasional sparring match should do just the opposite. Walking too will reveal a sense of self worth and importance. If you want to make an impression when entering a room, keep you eyes up and move with purpose towards your destination.
Men who walk into a room with purpose and greet others with bright eyes and a firm handshake won’t have a problem meeting people. Unless they stop there. Those with energetic greetings need to have polished conversation skills to walk the talk.
Small talk is oft criticized for being trite and insincere but one has to start somewhere. Launching immediately into an exposition of The Pelopensian War will more likely dim another’s interest rather than pique it. Wait for cocktails on that one. At first, engage in a little get to know you exchange. Ask questions like “how do you know the host?”, “do you have plans for the holidays?”, “how was your vacation?” and “did you grow up around here?” Usually, the answers you get and give will lead to more. Listen carefully so you can pick up on these entrees into more in depth conversation. If nothing strikes you, the best way to ensure an ongoing, vibrant conversation is to keep asking questions. Just avoid dead end queries that can be answered in “yes” or “no.” People love talking about themselves. A gentleman should never spend too much time talking about himself.
What Not to Ask or Conversation Killers
“How’s your ex?”
“Do you have plans for Christmas?” (Not everyone celebrates Christmas.)
“Do you dye your hair?”
“When’s your due date?” (What if they’re not pregnant?)
“I found a hair in my soup.”
“I hate coming to these things, don’t you?”
Introducing people to others
Often gentlemen will travel in numbers. If you’re in the know and the rest of your posse is in the dark, it’s up to you to bring them into the fold. At parties you’ll want to introduce friends to the host and other important people. At business gatherings, seek out the decision makers. When presenting a friend, first say the name of the person you’re meeting followed by your introduction. The exchange might go something like this: “Ed, I’d like you to meet a friend/business associate/(fill in the blank) of mine, John Smith.” If you know the two share a common interest or goal it’s completely appropriate and encouraged to make that connection for them. “John just got back from a cycling trip in the Pyranees,” you might say. “Ed does a lot of cycling himself.” You know you’ve done a good job if you find yourself excluded from the conversation, leaving you free to peel off and meet knew people of your own.
Diction and eloquence
Small talk and social conversation skills are one thing but a well polished gentleman should also know how to take it to the next level Going mano a mano with the most accomplished speakers requires a facility with language that includes a good vocabulary and does not include “um,” “like,” or “whatever.” To command respect in the board room or in front of a packed house is the hallmark of a man who is going places.
Nothing eloquent will spring from a man’s mouth unless he can speak clearly and loud enough for others to hear. One doesn’t need a background in theatre to get to this level but the notion of projecting the voice like an actor can be helpful. Don’t mumble. Keep your hand away from your mouth when you speak. If you’re in front of a large audience, speak to the person in the back row to ensure your voice is loud enough.
When you’re speaking clearly, choose your words carefully and use a sophisticated vocabulary to reveal the finer points of what you say. Anyone who can articulate an idea with a good vocabulary commands respect by showing a deeper understanding of the subject and efficiency with the language. It allows them to get their message across more effectively. Plus, if you’re listening to others talk you don’t want to get caught flat footed with a word you don’t know. For those starting out with a limited supply of words, get out a thesaurus and a dictionary and start looking up words you use often. These are likely words associated with your profession, hobby and interests. A little free writing will help. Just write down a word and try to think of several others that put a finer point on its meaning looking them up in the thesaurus is appropriate. Preparing yourself like this before a big speech or even before a social outing can afford less than vociferous neophytes with meretricious locution skills in no time.
Talking in front of others is a learned skill that gets better over time. If you’ve been asked to speak to a large crowd its because you have something to offer and an agreeable manner with which to present your ideas confident thoughts to calm first time speaking nerves. Luckily there are studied public speaking methods you can tuck into your portfolio before taking the podium.
1. Know your material inside and out. Cramming the night before and writing a speech on a subject you’ve never investigated is not going to inspire confidence in you or from your audience.
2. Know what your audience wants and tailor your talk to them.
3. Practice your speech in front of a mirror before you hit the big stage.
4. Don’t read from notes. Glancing at them every so often is okay but the key here is to know the salient points of what you want to say, have a few sound bytes, and otherwise make your presentation from memory. Here’s where knowing your subject really pays off.
5. Be an actor on the stage. You are essentially performing for the audience so you’ll want to use hand gestures and look out at the audience often. Sitting down or looking down during the speech is going to get you more than your fair share of yawns.
6. Make eye contact with various members of your audience. This will make the whole crowd feel involved.
7. Slow down and speak clearly. Let yourself pause often to bring weight to certain points you want to make.
8. Be funny, especially if your subject can get overly technical or philosophical. Nothing commands an audience more than humor.
9. Consider using visual aids or handouts but avoid Power Point presentations unless they do more than just reveal bullet points of things you’re already saying. These have become boring and cumbersome. If you want visual aids, they should add to not repeat what you’re saying.
10. Finally, know when to stop talking. This is really dependent on crafting an efficient speech with good vocabulary so that your point is presented as succinctly as possible.
Lessons in Listening
Often people make the mistake that they don’t have to listen to their audiences during a crowded presentation. Not true. Just as you would do at an intimate social event, listening is the key to offering feedback. A good listener shows that they are both interested in what you’re saying and engaged in what they’re talking about beyond just the small talk. Listening means not only hearing the words but understanding the concepts behind them. A good listener hears with purpose. He interprets what he’s heard by paraphrasing a point or idea back to the speaker. He asks questions to dig deeper into the conversation. He avoids judging a person or their ideas and instead he uses what he knows and what he has experienced to understand the speaker’s points.
How Not to Listen
Finish the speaker’s sentences for them.
Talk and talk and talk.
Interrupt to take a cell phone call, say hi to passes by, or pet a small animal.
Analyze last night’s dream sequences.
Imagine the speaker naked.
Look around the room instead of looking at the speaker in the eye.
How to Speak to the Authorities
Getting pulled over by the police or interviewed by a detective from the Securities and Exchange Commission is no time to abandon your eloquence or honed conversation skills. This could be when they come in handy the most. Know, however, that talking to the authorities is not the same as talking to acquaintances at a cocktail party. They are far less likely, for example, to warm up to you for cracking wise. If you don’t want to get the book thrown at you, give plenty of respect and answer honestly and as directly as possible, unless you’re going to incriminate yourself. In that case, get a lawyer and don’t say a thing. In general the less talking the better.
What Not to Say
Shouldn’t you be trying to catch terrorists?
I’m not a bad person; I was only going ten miles over the speed limit.
It wasn’t my idea.
Your job must get awfully boring.
My wife is having a baby at the hospital RIGHT NOW!
Look, I used to drive Formula One cars and I can handle the speed.
He did it.
Phone and online etiquette
Cell phones are so ubiquitous now that most people have gotten used to others chatting while in public. That doesn’t mean it’s always done in good taste. Nor does it mean that talking on the phone while driving has gotten any safer. Simply put: don’t do it. Some studies have equated driving while talking on the phone to driving while drunk. That’s how absent a driving cell phone talker can be behind the wheel. Not only is it bad etiquette, it’s dangerous.
1. Be aware of those around you and try not to invade their audio space, even when you’re outside. Nothing ruins a sunset more than the sound of a ringing telephone.
2. Be conscious of the people you’re hanging out with as well, especially if you’re on a date. Talking on the phone to someone about the day’s sports scores means you’re ignoring the person you’re with and who wants to be ignored?
3. Turn your phone off before going into restaurants, performances or waiting rooms. If you have to be available during these times, make sure you have a phone with a vibrating signal and always get up and walk outside before you take the call.
If you have call waiting that doesn’t mean you always have to use it. It’s great not to miss a call but if you’re on an important call already, why interrupt it? Ideally, you’re voice mail will field the beep so you can keep up the conversation at hand. If you must put someone on hold, do so politely but quickly and get back to the conversation. The way to do this is to say “I have another call, do you mind if I put you on hold for a second?” Then field the other call and simply say, “Hi, I’m in the middle of a conversation can I call you back?” Ending the initial call for one coming through on call waiting is not appropriate, unless you’ve warned your caller first that you’re expecting an important call and may have to run.
The same rules that apply to cell phone rings apply to beepers. Turn them off of switch them to vibrate in restaurants, performances, meetings, or classes. If you’re a doctor, responding to a beeper call is usually always understandable. If you’re not a doctor, only the most pressing circumstances should pry you out of a movie or a romantic dinner for two.
With the explosion of blogs, texting, online chats, and email the need for etiquette on the net Nettiquette is as important as it’s ever been. Just because you aren’t talking to or seeing the person you’re communicating with doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cordial and charming. A sharp wit is fine but outright insults don’t make you tough or smart they make you uninteresting. No one’s going to read a blog or chat if the topic consists of a series of snide remarks. Perhaps the most used form of electronic communication is email. It’s not like talking on the phone but it’s far from sending an old fashioned letter. The mistake many people make is being too casual in their emails. You don’t have to compose a business letter each time to ping someone but using the same short hand you use when texting a buddy over the phone isn’t appropriate either. A general rule of thumb is always start and end the first email of the day to someone (whether a friend or business client) with a formal greeting and sign off. “Hi Steve” to start and “Best, Sam” to end is fine. Then if the two of you get into some back and forth it’s okay to drop the formal greeting.
1. An email you send to co-workers or clients should be concise and to the point, but not too short that it comes off as rude.
2. Avoid sending messages in all lower case letters. Doing that makes you look like you have no self esteem.
3. Always respond to emails you get, even if it’s just to say “I got it, thanks.”
4. Check spelling, grammar and punctuation carefully.
5. Don’t send attachments that are so big it will take a day to download them.
6. Limit or stop sending chain letters or jokes. Who has time to read these things?
Introduction: Manners matter
Attitude and personal presence
Putting the gentle back into the man
Top ten qualities to nurture:
Competence, Patience, Resolve, Respect, Self-assurance, Spirit, Diplomacy, Tact
Chapter one: Stepping Out
The first impression establishing your presence and introducing yourself to others
The hello kiss
Walking how to carry yourself so that you make an impression
Small talk and conversation skills
Introducing people to others
Diction and eloquence
Speak up speaking clearly in all situations
Cultivating vocabulary without swallowing a dictionary
Lessons in listening
Commanding respect through the words you use
How to speak to the authorities: what to say, what not to say
Phone, email and online etiquette
Chapter two: Hygiene, Grooming, and Dress
Personal hygiene You might not need a range of skincare products but you do need to shower every day
How to shave: what to do if you cut yourself
How to iron: shirt, trousers
Your image the importance of developing your own style
Dressing for respect
The perfect wardrobe for winter, spring, summer, fall
Essential stylish items that will last a lifetime
Fashion do’s and don’ts from head to toe
Chapter three: Eating and Drinking
Elbows on or off the table
How to use a napkin
Eating and talking, do they mix?
Must you wait until everyone is serves or let your food get cold?
Being on time
Out on the town:
How to order in a restaurant
Sending food back
Glassware stem or bulb, where to hold?
Food masterclass: Sushi, soup, spaghetti
How to send it back if it is vinegary
How to give a toast
What to do if you’ve drunk too much
Smoking cigarettes when it’s cool, when it isn’t
Splitting the bill, stress free
Being the perfect host:
So you’re throwing a party what now?
Supplies to keep around food, drink, glassware, dishes, cookware
Cleanliness is Manliness: Home appearance interior, hiring a maid service
How to set the table for a dinner party styling tips
Your signature cocktail
How to open a bottle of wine/champagne
How to tie a bowtie
What to do when you receive a gift you don’t like
Writing thank you notes
Being the perfect guest:
How to receive an invitation
What to take great gift ideas for all occasions and people of all ages
Invited to dinner how to be the perfect dinner guest
Being a great party guest
Saying thank you: with cards, email, phone calls
Chapter four: The Fairer Sex
How to woo with flair
How to ask a woman out on a date
How to say no
How to hear no
How to pay a compliment
Door etiquette (not only for the woman you are dating)
Romantic dinners for two
When to call someone you like
When to kiss her, when not to kiss her
Birth control a gentleman’s responsibility
How to behave (or not) in bed
The morning after
Presents when to give them and what to give
Home attire living alone, with a woman
Getting engaged asking her father, getting a ring
Meeting your girlfriend’s/wife’s parents
How to behave when your wife tells you she’s pregnant
How to behave when your girlfriend tells you she’s pregnant
Chapter five: Men at Work
The job interview
What to wear to the office
How to be successful at a business meeting
The holiday party what to wear, who to talk to, what to say
Dating at the office to do it or not to do it
Business phone etiquette
Work speak and speaking at work
Giving the perfect presentation
The business lunch
Chapter six: Gentleman at Large
The bachelor party
Best Man etiquette
How to watch sports well with others
How to know when enough beer is enough
How to drive in traffic to avoid getting road rage
What to wear on an airplane
How much luggage to bring
How to act in a foreign country
What to do on crowded subway cars
Technology the etiquette of never switching off from the office, the Playstation, etc.
The new etiquette
Gym etiquette and more
If you have been trying to improve in many respects, this book will get you started. It does not do a Felix Unger type of manner, (and if you watch the Odd Couple you know what I mean by this) but gives a man a good glance at how he should act in all situations and how to present themselves without too much fuss or mess. The part on interacting with women is good, the part on dressing right is good as well (Although trying to learn to tie a bow tie from the diagram is neigh to impossible!). A good short read for all men and the best part is it is down to earth.
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Posted March 5, 2009
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Posted May 5, 2009
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