My friend Kelly says she loves to travel with me. Why? It’s not for my witty conversation. Nope. ImageIt’s because I can always get someone to help us with our carry-on luggage.

“I can never get anyone to help me!” she claims. “And Laura can walk down the aisle and in two seconds have a man offer to lift her bag in the overhead.”

I told her, as I’ll tell you, that most men want to display kind gestures but are unsure if such offers would be welcomed. And I believe that women, like Kelly, forget they can request such respectful behavior and that they have every right to do so.

Here are seven keys that can help unlock your man’s inner gentleman:

1.    Be approachable: Make eye contact and smile

Recently on a flight as I walked towards my row, I saw a man sitting nearby made eye contact and softly smiled. After placing my purse in my seat, and before I made a motion towards my roller bag, this gentleman quickly jumped up and offered to help.

“Thank you so much,” I said as I stepped aside so he could perform the good deed. People generally gravitate to people who are approachable. Make eye contact and smile. If that doesn’t work, go to the next tip … ask.

2.    Ask in the moment: Let him know when it’s appropriate

Some men are afraid to offer or don’t think to offer because no one has taught them about polite gestures.  And then there are some men who simply don’t recognize the opportunities when they arise. So what to do then?  Simple.  Ask. I’ve never seen a man decline.

3.    Tell him: Don’t expect him to read your mind

If you could give your man a superhero power it likely would be that he could read your mind, but … alas … he’s no superhero. But you can help him with some super-impressive powers by telling him what you would like him to do – open the door for your, introduce you when you meet his colleagues on the street, eat with his mouth closed. You know what you want. Tell him.

4.    Give him time: Let him recognize the opportunity

When you reach a door, don’t just plow right through it … hesitate a few seconds. Give your companion a chance to be nice. Give him an opportunity to recognize an opportunity to show how much he respects you and open it for you. How can he show you he knows what to do unless you give him a chance to do it without verbal prompting?

5.    Say thank you: Let him know you appreciate it

There are few things more powerful than positive reinforcement. Say thank you when he offers you a compliment. Tell him how much you appreciate it when he walks you to your car. If he knows you welcome such gestures, he will most likely do them again.

6.    Let him repeat: Practice makes perfect

So you got him to get your drink at the bar during your last outing … high five! Now, the next time you go out, let him offer again before you make a beeline to the bartender. Practice makes perfect, ladies.

7.    Do unto others: Be as polite as you want HIM to be

This one is the kicker. Oh … that golden rule: “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” People most often reflect the treatment they are given. It’s the whole good-goes-around theory. If you want him to say please and thank you, say it yourself. If you want him to give you compliments, let him know he smells nice, or looks handsome or keeps his car immaculately clean.

As the cherry on top, here’s wisdom from the queen of etiquette, Emily Post. “The cardinal principle of etiquette is thoughtfulness and the guiding rule of thoughtfulness is the Golden Rule. If you always do unto others as you would have done unto you, it is likely that you will never offend, bore or intrude, and that your actions will be courteous and indeed thoughtful.”

(Published in OceanStyle Magazine, July 2011)