Some say they miss the ol’ time chivalry. Some say chivalry is dead. Some say they don’t even know what the word “chivalry” means. Well … dear readers unaware of the combined qualities once expected of a man, here is a quick list of the classic behaviors and manners that distinguish a true gentleman.
- Go to their door: When a gentleman picks up his date, Granny, or little niece or nephew, he should go to their door and politely make his presence known. (Honking his car from the street doesn’t count.) And when the outing is complete, the man should walk his companion back her door or otherwise ensure she safely makes it back inside her home.
- Open the doors: A gentleman never lets a lady’s hand touch a door (on a building or a car) if he is around. This also applies for holding a door open for any one of any gender going through a door directly after him. There are few things that show you have complete disregard for someone else than allowing a door to swing back in their face at full speed. (Hello man at the bank.)
- Stand up: When a lady enters a room a gentleman should stand to acknowledge her and wait to sit until after she takes her own seat. If she doesn’t have a place to sit, the gentleman should offer the lady his own seat. And if he really wanted to make an impression he would assist her with pulling out and pulling in her chair. (Nice and slow … no bumsie-hit-floor fiascos please.)
- Walk along side of your companion: A gentleman doesn’t walk ahead of his lady companion, providing a challenge for her to keep up or to not lose him in a crowd. Rather, a gentleman should walk at his companion’s side (hey … even have a conversation). If the pair is walking on a sidewalk, the gentleman also should walk on the side closest to the road with the lady on the inside to offer her protection from traffic.
- Assist with carrying objects: A gentleman will always offer to assist a lady with lifting or carrying an object, especially if it is heavy. And he should carry it all the way to its intended location. (No halfsies please.)
- Offer your jacket: If the movie theatre is cold or the breeze outside turns chilly, a gentleman should offer his jacket or sweater to the lady in his company so she can be comfortable. He also should keep a handkerchief in his pocket to assist in a myriad of situations: sneezing, sticky hands, wet seat, etc. (He also would find it valuable to learn how to fold it after it has been used, too.)
- Is never rude or crude: A gentleman keeps his burps and other bodily noises in check when he is in the presence of others. (Yes, that means noises emanating from up high and down low.) And his language is as clean and appropriate as if his saintly grandmother was listening. Vulgar words and actions never add polish to a man.
- Demonstrate courage for others: If a gentleman sees an injustice against any one of any race, gender or age, he has the courage to stand up for them. This doesn’t mean starting a fistfight or a shouting match, but rather he will politely defend their right to be treated fairly.
- Ensure proper introductions are made: A gentleman always ensures his companions are properly introduced when joining a dinner party or family lime. He will always try to prevent his companions from feeling awkward and out of place. (Ummm … so who are you again?)
- Keep commitments: A gentlemen always keeps his word. If he says he is going to pick you up at 7 p.m., he will be there on time. If he said he will send that email, it will be sent. And if he promised to keep your secret, it will remain confidential … always.
While some may think that these gentlemen gestures are out-of-date and old-fashioned, there is nothing more timeless than a courteous man. A person who shows respect and consideration for others will always be in style and in demand. True chivalry is a two-sided effort in which both men and women are equal warriors.
Laura Cotton is a wife, mother of two, stepmother of three, and a licensed etiquette trainer with Emily Post Institute. With more than 15 years of experience, her passion is to help people gain confidence with her Pearl Strategies image development workshops. She may be contacted at 757-1017 or email@example.com.
(The article was originally published in CARE Magazine with Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Newspaper on 25 August 2018.)