A “lady” has evolved significantly throughout the ages. While at one time ladies were expected to wear hats and gloves in public, today’s dress standard doesn’t include such wardrobe details. And while it was once required for a lady to have an escort to attend functions, today’s lady can go about independently. What is ageless are the characteristics of a lady that express her consideration and respect for others. Here are 10 timeless qualities of a lady:
- Accepts gentlemanly gestures: A lady allows a gentleman to show his respect and courtesy for her. She also allows other women to assist should she need. A lady understands that allowing others to be courteous is a powerful thing. (So say yes to his offer to help with your carry-on bag.)
- Watches her mouth: A lady uses the magic words (thank you, please, and excuse me) in her everyday language and avoids foul language. She also doesn’t assume that casual acquaintances are interested in unsolicited dialogue about personal troubles and keeps such conversations for the appropriate confidants. (And a lady knows when to close her mouth and be a good listener.)
- Primps in private: Should a lady need to touch up her makeup, reapply nail polish or adjust her clothes, she removes herself from the view of other people and goes to a washroom or private place. (What about perfume you ask? Same rule applies.)
- Greets people properly: A lady knows that it is a time-honored display of respect to stand to greet someone who just entered the room. (That rule isn’t just for men any more.) She also knows to smile, make eye contact, and give a firm handshake when meeting a person.
- Respects other people’s time: A lady tries her best to be on time. She understands that lateness may be interpreted as “I am more important that you or this event” which could cost her a friend, a job or an appointment. If being late is unavoidable, a lady will always contact the appropriate person to inform them of her estimated time of arrival with an apology.
- Deals politely with rudeness: A lady knows the true test of her grace and poise is when it is challenged by inconsiderate behavior. When someone is offensive, she give the person the benefit of the doubt (knowing most people don’t mean to be rude) and never responds in the same way. She picks her battles, always thinks before she speaks, and chooses to be civil rather than to demean.
- Makes those in her presence feel valued: A lady will give genuine attention to those in her company and give them priority over those who communicating with her via phone. She understands it is rude to text or scroll through social media while speaking or listening to another person. (Yes, that means in a meeting, party, church, lecture, etc.)
- Knows how to say no: A lady knows how to respond to an unwanted advance in a way that will stop the behavior while not humiliating the other person. (“Sorry, dearie, I’m already taken.”) She also knows that while she should make herself available for family, friends, and career that she needs be aware of feeling stretched thin and pull back to sort out her priorities. A lady also knows to never say yes if she does not intend to keep the commitment.
- Gives and accepts compliments: A lady give compliments when they are deserved and sincere. She also graciously accepts compliments when offered to her. She doesn’t wave them off with a “Oh, it was nothing” but rather responds with a heartfelt “Thank you” or “You are so kind to say so.”
- Is prepared: A lady considers where she is going and carries items that are necessary to ensure a comfortable experience for herself and others. While certain events may require specific items (such as a scarf for the theatre or cough drops for a ticklish throat) basic things like tissues, aspirin, a pen, breath mints, and vex money are staple supplies in her bag.
A lady knows that beauty may fade and wealth may be fleeting but her character is how others will judge and remember her. Being considered a “lady” should be one of the highest compliments for a woman because it means she recognises her infinite worth and uses it to positively impact others.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This article was originally published in CARE Magazine with Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Newspaper on 25 August 2017.)