A young man's guide to becoming the type of guy that people respect and enjoy.
50 Things Every Young Gentleman Should Know is a young man’s guide to becoming the type of guy that people respect and enjoy. He knows how to shake hands. He knows how to be a good sport. He knows how to give a genuine compliment and how to speak his mind without being offensive. His friends listen to what he has to say, and he returns the favor. He knows how to achieve the perfect knot in a necktie, and more important, he knows when he should be wearing a tie in the first place. Oh, and his favorite ball cap? He knows when to wear it and when to leave it at home on his dresser. Becoming a gentleman doesn’t happen in an instant; it’s a lifelong exercise in refining etiquette, social interaction, and personal discipline. It all begins here.
About the Author
John Bridges, author of How to Be a Gentleman, is also the coauthor, with Bryan Curtis, of seven other volumes in the best-selling GentleManners series. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society. Bridges has appeared on the Today Show, the Discovery Channel, and CBS Sunday Morning, and has been profiled in People magazine and the New York Times.
Bryan Curtis is an author and the president of Dance Floor Books. He is the author/coauthor and editor of more than 25 books, including My South, My Southern Food, Classic Wisdom for the Good Life, Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life, and the popular GentleManners series.
Read an Excerpt
50 THINGS EVERY YOUNG GENTLEMAN SHOULD KNOWWHAT TO DO, WHEN TO DO IT & WHY
By JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 John Bridges and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSAYING "PLEASE"
Saying "please" is the simplest thing you will ever have to do. It is like taking the easiest class at your school. It is a slam dunk. It's probably smart to start using the word "please" as often as you can, beginning right now. It will make life go much more smoothly for you.
Here's what's in it for you: Remember when you were three or four and you would ask for something, and before your mom would give it to you, she would stand there asking, "What do you say?" and of course you would say, "Pleeeeeeeease." And she would give it to you. That was cute when you were three. But look how old you are now.
If you haven't already started using "please" all the time, you should be worried. And your parents certainly ought to be concerned. They may even be asking themselves, "Should we even bother putting him in the will?" or "Why should we be worrying about sending him to college? He can't even say 'please.'"
Start practicing now:
At the breakfast table, you don't say, "Can I have some cereal?"
Instead, you say, "May I have some cereal, please?"
If somebody asks, "Do you want sugar on your cereal?" you don't say, "Yeah."
Instead, you say, "Yes, please."
If you're on a crowded elevator, you don't say, "Can somebody over there press nine?"
Instead, you say, "Would someone press nine, please?"
If you come to the door, and your hands are full, you don't say, "Hey! Somebody get the door!" Instead, you say, "Would you hold the door open for me, please?"
"Please" is a lot like HD televisions, the newest gaming system, and having cash in your pocket. It makes the world a nicer place to live in.
Learn how to use it, and start using it now. It will take you far.
Say "please" any time you are asking someone to do something for you. That means, when you're in a restaurant, you say to the waiter, "May I have another soda, please?"
Assume, just because other people are doing their jobs, that you don't have to show appreciation for their efforts.
One day you will realize that you should be as nice to the person who opens the door for you at Trump Tower as you would be to Donald Trump himself. If you learn that now, you will be way ahead of the game.
A gentleman knows that "please" and "thank you" go together like nachos and cheese.
* * *
A gentleman says "please" to anyone offering him assistance. It does not matter if he is being offered an order of fries or free tickets to a football game.
Chapter TwoSAYING "THANK YOU"
Saying "Thank you" is just as easy—and as important—as saying "please." Remember how easy it was to play T-ball? Saying "thank you" is that easy. You say, "Thank you," any time anyone does something nice or helpful for you.
When someone holds an elevator door open for you—you say, "Thank you."
When someone tells you that you are the smartest young man they have ever met—you say, "Thank you."
When someone gives you a new video game—you say, "Thank you."
When someone hands you a saltshaker—you say, "Thank you."
Say, "Thank you," whenever anybody says something nice to you—even if you are not sure you're being paid a compliment.
Ask, "Is that supposed to be a compliment?"
When people tell you that you look just like your grandfather, they are trying to say something nice. Even if you don't think being compared to someone who has lost most of his hair is a compliment—it is. Just say, "Thank you." It will make your grandfather very happy.
Say, "Thank you," whenever someone gives you a gift, even if you are not crazy about it.
Laugh or frown or do anything else that gives the impression that you do not like the gift.
You are not always going to like every gift you receive. Every young gentleman has an aunt who gives him underwear or a godparent who buys him things that are four years too young for him. But it is always important to say, "Thank you." You don't have to pretend that you love something you don't like. But saying, "Thank you for thinking of me," gets the job done. And you are still letting people know that you appreciate them and their thoughtfulness.
Say, "Thank you," when your mom hands you your allowance, when the person behind the counter at the fast food restaurant gives you your chicken nuggets, and when your dad helps you with your homework.
Assume, just because you're used to getting your allowance, picking up your chicken nuggets, or having help with your homework, that you don't need to say, "Thanks."
It is important to be nice to people who do nice things for you—whether it is fixing your dinner or smiling when they hand you your chicken nuggets. When people treat you well and they see you behaving like a gentleman in return, they will be proud to know their efforts haven't been lost on you.
A gentleman does not put a price tag on his saying "thank you." He says, "Thank you," for small acts of kindness, just as he does for the big ones.
A gentleman knows that a simple "Thank you" is usually fine. There is never any need to go on and on.
Chapter ThreeSAYING "EXCUSE ME"
Whether you are stepping in front of someone in a store, or sneezing or burping, or trying to get another person's attention, "Excuse me" is a phrase you will need to use for the rest of your life.
It doesn't matter whether you are a young man or an old man. You are going to burp or pass gas or get the hiccups. You are going to have to step around other people on airplanes, at the movies, or in the bleachers at a ball game. You are going to have to interrupt someone to ask a question or ask for help. It just happens.
Saying "Excuse me" is the right thing to do, in all these situations. It doesn't matter whether you're getting in someone else's space, whether you've created an odor that smells like a dead animal, or whether you need to interrupt somebody to ask for directions. "Excuse me" is always the right thing to say.
You don't need to say, "I'm sorry," because you haven't done anything wrong—unless you have been rude and walked in front of somebody at the movies and stood there so long he or she missed half the show. That's when you need to say, "I'm sorry." But most of the time, "Excuse me" is all you need to say.
Try to wait until you can get outdoors before you pass gas. At least try to get to a room where you will be the only one breathing the air for a while.
Assume, just because you can say, "Excuse me," that it's Okay for you to pass gas, no matter where you are.
Accidents happen. But if it's not an accident, you're just being rude, and it won't take long for people to figure out that they don't want to be trapped in a room with you.
Say, "Excuse me," when you have to interrupt someone, like the librarian at your school who may be reading a book (that's what librarians do), to ask for help in locating the book you need for your homework.
Just stand around and wait fifteen minutes, hoping the librarian will finally notice you standing there.
It is perfectly all right to ask a question. "Excuse me" was invented for moments like this—when you need to get someone's attention.
A gentleman never uses the words "Hey," "Hey you," "Hey dude," or any phrase that starts with the word "hey" when he is trying to get another person's attention. He says, "Excuse me."
A gentleman does his best to control all bodily functions in public. That way, he will not have to say "Excuse me" all the time.
Chapter FourMAKING AN APOLOGY
There are plenty of times in life when you will want to say, "I'm sorry." When we make mistakes, it is best to go ahead and admit them. You may need to say, "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings," "I'm sorry I left my pocket knife on the couch and you sat on it," "I'm sorry I used the last of the toilet paper and forgot to put in a new roll," or even "I'm sorry I spit in the air and the wind caught it and it hit you in the face."
You probably can make your own list of times when you will need to say, "I'm sorry"—because everybody makes mistakes and does stupid things. A gentleman tries to make as few mistakes as possible, and if you are lucky, as you get older, you won't make mistakes quite so often. If you try not to make the same mistakes twice, you will be relieved that you don't have to say, "I'm sorry," again and again. Better yet, people will accept your apologies and forgive you for having screwed up.
Say, "I'm sorry," and mean it.
Say, "I'm sorry," if you don't really mean it or if you're just trying to get somebody off your back. People are smarter than you think; they know a phony apology when they hear one.
Being a good guy means that you admit it when you do things that hurt or inconvenience other people.
Say more than "I'm sorry" if the occasion calls for it. For example, if you throw a baseball and smash the neighbor's window, you say, "I'm sorry I broke your window. I'll make sure it gets replaced." If you can't afford to pay for something you have broken, you can offer to work out an arrangement that will allow you to correct your mistake. Maybe you can work out a deal with your parents so that they will give you an advance on your allowance, or maybe they will let you do some extra work around the house to earn the money you need.
Assume that saying "I'm sorry" always gets you off the hook.
A gentleman knows that sometimes a few words are not enough to fix a mistake. Part of growing up is learning what you really need to do when you've damaged somebody's property or hurt another person's feelings.
A gentleman, who has offended another person, says, "I'm sorry."
A gentleman does his best not to offend anyone on purpose, but if he realizes that he has offended another person because he didn't think before he spoke or acted, he immediately apologizes.
A gentleman knows that saying "I'm sorry" will not mean much if he does not try to do better. You can only get away with forgetting to feed the dog so many times before your parents, and the dog, start growling at you.
Chapter FiveACCEPTING AN APOLOGY
Let's say a friend's dog has chewed up a comic book you let your friend borrow. The friend says, "I'm sorry." You might respond in one of two ways. You might say, "That's Okay. Stuff like that happens." Or you might say, "You idiot. Why did you leave my comic book lying around where your dumb dog could eat it?"
Sometimes, it's hard to say, "I accept your apology." But most of the time it is the right thing to do. Because you want to do the gentlemanly thing, you try to put yourself in your friend's place. If it had been your dog that destroyed your friend's property, you would feel miserable. You would hope that your friend would give you a break, so you try to cut him some slack as well.
If your brother forgets to replace the toilet paper roll after he has used the last of it and he says, "My bad. I'm sorry," you accept the apology. Similarly, if the server in a restaurant brings you a sandwich you didn't order, and he says, "I'm sorry. Let me make that right," you accept the apology. After all, that's what you'd want them to do for you.
Forgive someone when he or she says, "I'm sorry." Then you move along, as if the mistake never happened.
Let yourself be taken advantage of. If your friend's dog chews up your comic book every time you loan him one, you may still accept his apology—but you don't have to loan him any more comic books.
Being a gentleman does not mean you have to let people treat you badly. Sometimes, if someone does the same inconsiderate things or hurts your feelings over and over again, you may want to keep your distance from them.
Say, "That's Okay," when someone apologizes.
Say, "That's Okay, just don't let it happen again," or "That's Okay, but try not to be so stupid next time."
It's not fair to pretend to accept a person's apology and still try to make that person feel rotten. When you accept an apology, it's best to use as few words as possible—especially if, deep inside, you're still feeling angry or upset.
A gentleman knows how to forgive and forget.
A gentleman does not keep reminding his friends about their past mistakes. If he finds that he is getting tired of the same old problems occurring, he might want to think about getting new friends.
Chapter SixINTRODUCING YOUR FRIENDS TO YOUR PARENTS
Your parents don't want to run your life. But they do have the right to ask a few questions.
Let's say they run into you at the mall or in the park, and see you talking to someone they do not know. If you just wave at your mom or dad and then go on talking with your friend, your parents may be thinking, "That's a cute girl. I wonder if she's his girlfriend? I bet she'd make a lovely daughter-in-law and their children would be beautiful." Or they may be thinking, "That kid looks like trouble. I think I saw him on the ten o'clock news last night." Or they might be thinking, "This child I raised from a baby has no manners. I have failed terribly." (And that would be the worst thing possible.)
You don't want them thinking any of these things—especially about the girl. But it can be easy to nip that idea in the bud.
You definitely don't want your parents coming over to you and saying something like, "Scott must not want us to meet you. Just how do you know our son?" Or "Our son obviously has no manners. Hi, I'm Scott's mom." Or the worst: "Well, since Scott won't introduce us, I will just have to assume that you are his girlfriend."
You can stop all of this very easily if you just start introducing your friends to your parents. It is really painless, and, if you do it right away, they'll have less time to think of something to say that will embarrass you.
Say, "Dad, this is Michael. He's on my baseball team." Or "Mom, I'd like you to meet Jessica. We go to school together."
Just say, "Dad, this is Michael." Or "Mom, this is Jessica."
When you give your parents a little information about your friends, it gives them a chance to say something that doesn't make you feel uncomfortable—something like, "So Michael, what position do you play?" Give your parents a break. They are probably much more interesting than you think, and having parents your friends like is a great thing for you.
Excerpted from 50 THINGS EVERY YOUNG GENTLEMAN SHOULD KNOW by JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS Copyright © 2012 by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Saying "Please"....................1
2. Saying "Thank You"....................4
3. Saying "Excuse Me"....................8
4. Making an Apology....................11
5. Accepting an Apology....................15
6. Introducing Your Friends to Your Parents....................18
7. Saying "Ma'am" and "Sir"....................22
8. Asking Permission....................25
9. Paying a Compliment....................28
10. Accepting a Compliment....................31
11. Knowing When to Keep Your Mouth Shut....................34
12. Listening to and Talking to Adults....................37
13. Shaking Hands....................41
14. Meeting People with Physical Challenges....................45
15. Accepting a Gift You Don't Like....................48
16. Accepting a Gift You Like....................52
17. Writing a Thank-You Note....................55
18. Selecting a Gift....................59
19. Answering the Telephone....................63
20. Taking Phone Messages....................69
21. Using a Cell Phone....................73
22. Winning Well....................79
23. Losing Well....................82
24. How to Act in Places Where You Are Bored....................85
25. How to Behave in a Movie Theater....................89
26. Traveling on an Airplane....................93
27. Walking in Front of Other People....................97
28. Responding to Invitations....................100
29. Using a Napkin....................104
30. Using the Correct Fork....................108
31. Using a Knife and Fork....................112
32. Refusing Foods You Can't Eat....................115
33. Dealing with Foods You Don't Like....................118
34. Ordering from a Menu....................122
35. How to Use Chopsticks....................126
36. Opening the Door for Other People....................128
37. A Gentleman Goes Online....................131
38. Borrowing and Sharing....................139
39. The Unzipped Zipper and Other Embarrassing Situations....................143
40. Boundaries: Yours and Theirs....................147
41. Taking Pride in Your Appearance....................151
42. Tying Your Own Tie....................155
43. Shining Your Shoes....................160
44. When to Take Off Your Cap....................164
45. Taking Care of Your Fingernails....................167
46. Handkerchiefs and Tissues....................169
47. Picking Up After Your Pet....................172
48. Picking Up After Yourself....................176
49. Putting Down the Toilet Seat....................180
50. Personal Hygiene....................183