Chivalrous Gents - Flatter a Lady in 2011
by Teah Strandjord
When I worked in finance we lived by the great adage: you can’t put lipstick on a pig. And so it is with men and gentlemanliness. Indeed, there are many exterior (and sometimes cliché) opportunities for the aspiring to refine, from polished shoes and pressed shirts (which I love just as much as a t-shirt and slip-ons), to a low ball of brandy in the right hand and a cigar in the left. But nothing, at least in my opinion, nothing truly distinguishes the real gentleman from the uncouth boob more so than how he treats a lady.
Let me say that another way: a man who knows how to treat his female counterpart is truly desirable. Fortunately for the unaware, a detailed library of etiquette books exist on this very topic, try these if you’re looking for either conventional or modern how-to: Emily Post, The Perfect Gentleman, and Bereolaesque. There are, however, a few simple and very impressive gestures that any woman in your life will appreciate. And they are as follows:
1. Open the door for a woman – and this means the door to the restaurant, to the office building, or to the car. Women who aren’t accustomed to gentlemanliness might make this difficult for you, so get in there and make sure your hand beats hers to the door.
2. Allow a woman to enter and exit the elevator first. This note comes from my years of working in high-rise office buildings alongside the debonair and not-so-suave alike. Not-so-suave: step across the threshold before the woman beside you.
3. In social settings, allow a woman to lead the way. Simply step aside and gesture for her to go first. Why? Because it's courteous, as is a gentleman.
4. Watch the language fellas. There is a way to speak in the locker room, and there is a way to speak in the presence of a woman. Unless she too has a cheek full of chew (in which case she is many things, and a lady is not one of them), avoid profanities and barbaric statements that expose your animalistic thoughts.
5. While dining, if you’d really like to make a lady feel welcome, honored, and moreover if you’d like to hit a gentlemanly home-run, stand up as she approaches the table. You should also pull out her chair, and gently guide it beneath her as she sits. Then after dinner help her with her jacket. But - warning - these gestures can be awkward and hazardous for the charming newbie who hasn’t practiced, so if that’s you now is the time to call in in some practice help (mom, sister, neighbor).
6. Know your table manners, because a lady knows hers. Remember the simple refinements your parents should have taught you, like the dos: put your napkin in your lap, pour wine and water for others first, and the don’ts: slurp your milk (or wine or beer), speak with food in your mouth, or fidget with your mobile devices while trying to woo (and chew).
7. Even if it's covered in large floral print, carry a woman's luggage for her. Yes, some women have that modern "I will do it myself, because I can" attitude, but a lady will appreciate the gesture.
There are many other “rules” you will find in the etiquette books (or in age-old family instructions), such as walking on the street side when strolling with a lady, and it’s up to you how deep you’d like to dive into courtly tedium (see links to books above). But the few gestures here, all about consideration and respect, are the simplest of statements in your quest to impress, and moreover will make you a gentleman on the inside no matter your garb on the out.
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