This Is the Difference Between a Man and a Gentleman

Strap on your thinking caps, boys, because I’m going to teach you something that’s not easily done, and yet, is the easiest idea to learn. It is something your daddy may not have taught you, and no matter how many chats you snap, how many “grams” you like or how many people follow you, you’ll never know the difference between a man and a gentleman if you don’t start paying attention.

Most likely, these are things you already know or could easily know, but it’s important for us to remind each other once in a super blood moon eclipse what a gentleman is. We don’t claim to be all-knowing here, just want to share. Now, turn off your damn phone (unless you’re reading this on your phone, of course) and learn a thing or two. Then go out and practice, practice, practice.

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A Gentleman Listens.

It’s easy to hear. A hummingbird can do that. But listening, as you may know, is another story. When people talk, take the time to actually listen, like really listen. Give your undivided attention, and you may actually learn something. Should a topic excite you, don’t interrupt and blab your nonsense into an awkward silence. Simply hold your thoughts and listen with everything you have. It’s quite refreshing, especially when no response is expected.

Exercise: Hold a conversation for more than five minutes without speaking. Use nonverbal actions if you have to in order to not be weird.

A Gentleman Is Quiet.

Especially when he knows he’s right and is being challenged. This idea piggybacks off the listening portion. Being quiet doesn’t just allow you to be a good listener; it allows the other senses to kick in as well. When you’re talking all the time, it’s hard to notice the softness of life. As zen as that may sound, you’ll find more happiness in stillness and silence than you will banging your head against a wall.

Exercise: Drive with someone in the car and the music off.

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A Gentleman Is Kind.

If I hear someone turn the phrase “nice guys finish last” one more time, I’m going to throw up in their unoriginal mouths. I happen to think there’s fundamental difference between nice and kind. Lots of people are nice, and most of the time it’s fake or posturing, but kindness has a type of sincere caring attached to it that says you’re being genuine. Be kind.

Exercise: Take out the trash for your elderly neighbor.

A Gentleman Is Educated.

There comes a time in every man’s life where he says something, and he’s pretty sure it’s correct. With time comes wisdom, and though you may feel wise beyond your years at the ripe age of 28, or 32 or whatever the hell age you are that pisses people off, you’re probably not as smart as you think. But when the words come out, and you can eloquently talk about something in detail without lying or making things up on the fly, that’s when it’s actually alright to speak freely.

Exercise: Read a book, a real one, preferably mine. And it better have pages, none that Kindle crap.

A Gentleman Is Thoughtful.

The term “thoughtful” can be designated to a number of ideas, most of which are gentlemanly. Building something as a gift to a friend (or even buying something tangible these days) for a birthday, or even just for the hell of it, says you’re thinking about them when they’re not standing front of you. The best is when it’s directed at complete strangers, the people who you owe nothing to you, or so you think.

Exercise: The next time you go out to dinner and have leftovers, give the box to a homeless person, but don’t do it in front of someone else. Just you. And the next time your friend has a birthday or baby, don’t think for a second a Facebook message will suffice. 

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A Gentleman is Chivalrous.

Simple actions seem to be lost on the oncoming youth. We know you’re busy with your app and your startup and your snaps and chats, but take a moment to be beside yourself and do what’s important. Have some goddamn respect for other people. No woman — not your girl, your mother, gammy, or your fucking dog — should be opening a door when you can do it for them. Am I starting to sound like the hippies over at Cafe Gratitude yet? “You are chivalrous.”

Exercise: Hold the door for a complete stranger who’s far from the door. In fact, make sure it’s a dude.

A Gentleman Is Calming.

People are so in their own heads with the craziness of life that they don’t need you bringing them down, too. Your job in this life experiment is to better someone else’s day when you see them, friend or foe. No one likes a complainer, a whiner or a smart ass, but instead maybe just reassure them that everything they’re complaining, whining and smart ass-ing about will be alright in time. Of the two of you, be the sage.

Exercise: Don’t say anything negative the next time someone asks you how you’re doing.

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A Gentleman Is Trusting And Trustworthy.

There’s nothing better, especially the older you get, than having someone you can rely on to be in your corner, and they ask and expect nothing in return. It’s a mutual trust, or it should be. Life is long, painful and pointless if there’s nobody you can trust in it. Because once the trust is gone, there’s no point in lying to each other’s ugly mugs.

Exercise: The next time someone asks you to help them move, don’t make an excuse. Just do it and refuse payment of any kind, unless it’s a back scratch. Those are amazing and free.

A Gentleman Is Vulnerable.

If you are to study zen in the art of being a gentleman, you must be able to surrender, not just to others or a higher power, but yourself. No, I didn’t read that in a metaphysical bestseller, it sure as hell sounds like it, doesn’t it? Being vulnerable is what allows people to see a spark of virtue in your eyes and action. Don’t cower or gloat or be glib and smug. Just be genuine, whether it’s good or bad. Vulnerability leads to trust, and as stated above, you can’t be much of anything if nobody trusts you.

Exercise: Share something embarrassing the next time you have an appropriate opening to do so. It can be small and simple. You don’t have to weird everyone out all the time.

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A Gentleman Is A Man, Yes, But A Good Man.

All this to say, be a man, but a good one. A man is strong, supportive and nurturing. A man provides and carries others when they can’t carry themselves. But one of the things people are convinced is the things men cannot be. Those things, the vulnerability and the kindness, are important, too.

Don’t let social stigmas and what others think of you cloud your good judgment. A man does what he knows it right, and with that comes a good man. And a good man, my good man, is a gentleman.

Exercise: Don’t believe everything everybody tells you. Be your own kind of gentleman.

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