Who do you picture when you think of a gentleman? I have to admit, there’s a part of me that always imagines Cary Grant. There’s something idealistic about a clean-cut, no-nonsense man in a suit ready to sweep a woman off her feet and be the hero of the movie.
But there’s a lot more to being a gentleman than Old Hollywood glamour. While we can glean some style tips from Mr. Grant, the modern gentleman doesn’t come from looking at the past.
Just who is the modern gentleman and why are his ideals important? Here’s my hot take.
Why Strive to Be a Gentleman in the 21st Century?
One of the advantages of gentlemanly behavior, simply put, is success is relationships. While not every relationship is guaranteed to work out, the principles that guide the modern gentleman are many of the same principles that set the foundation for healthy relationships of all kinds. The key here is that one’s disposition is not superficial, but a true change in the heart.
Being a gentleman is not about impressing women or making a good impression on the boss in order to move up the ladder. It’s about being the best person you can be. The rest falls into place naturally.
True gentlemen are often successful in their careers, and that is because they do things, believe in things, and stand for things that bring about professional success. They work hard, have integrity, and understand that career success is about more than being in the right place at the right time. They value the hustle, they understand the importance of good working relationships, and they place inherent value in reputation and achievement...the old-fashioned way.
Lastly, there is value to being a gentleman in the modern age simply for the fact that it is personally satisfying. While following this mode of behavior may not always be the easiest or most convenient, there is something to be said for how it makes you feel at the end of the day. The path of the gentleman means doing right by others—treating people with dignity and respect, and earning your achievements by honest means.
At the end of the day, this leads to a deeper satisfaction with yourself as a person, not just in what you have achieved.
What Distinguishes Today’s Modern Gentleman?
One of the most important values held by gentlemen, past and present, is discretion. This means that gossip and idle talk is never on the table. You never take part in starting or spreading rumors. Your water-cooler chats are always innocent and free of tearing others down or salacious details, true or not.
Provided it is not harming anyone, you do not concern yourself with other people’s private lives...or talking about them.
The modern gentleman is not content with idle hands. You step up and work hard, whether to provide for your family or to achieve your own goals. A work ethic is not simply holding a job, however—it’s a drive. This drive moves you not only to get up and go to work but to go beyond it. It moves you to push, to strive, and to achieve something that is not just a paycheck. This might be working towards a promotion or making a real change for something you care about. It might be going to extra mile and helping at home after work.
Regardless, you know that the things worth having in life are worth fighting for—whether it’s a dream job, a healthy marriage, secure finances, or all of the great and beautiful things in life.
Hospitable & Chivalrous
I rolled these into one because they’re closely related. To be hospitable is to be welcoming. To host well. However, this is not limited to only throwing parties or having friends over for drinks. Hospitality extends to neighbors and strangers as well, and it moves beyond our doorsteps. Whether you help a stranger load their groceries, carry a heavy bag, or do small acts of kindness even when they inconvenience you, these conscious acts of courtesy make all the difference of the world.
As for chivalry? It’s had a makeover. Chivalry is not about romance or earning affections, or anything having to do with women being the “weaker sex,” but it is everything about honor. The gentleman believes that women are especially to be treated with respect and dignity. Chivalry doesn't even have to be limited to how you treat women. Think of it as acting honorably—standing up for what is right, defending people who need defending, and putting yourself on the line for the sake of someone else's need.
A Man Of His Word
Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the modern gentleman is his honesty. You can’t expect to get very far in your career or in relationships without it. This honesty manifests in several forms, both in your willingness to tell the truth and express honesty in all things and in your determination to mean what you say. Stay true to your commitments. This is much more important than you think, especially when it comes to your reputation.
Mastery of Presentation
Presentation matters. This isn’t just about how you dress or having a stylish haircut, though this is part of the equation. A gentleman knows how to present himself well. Because you know this, you’re hygienic, well-spoken, and maintain good posture. Your table manners can’t be matched. You maintain eye-contact and know how to give that perfect firm handshake.
At the end of the day, you know how much appearances matter, and yours can’t be matched.
What qualities do you think are essential to the modern gentleman? Share your top traits in the comments.