Etiquette for Gentlemen: A Primer

BrianBrian says:
Men, the time has come where you must put away all those hangups that you may have had about the correct ways to treat a lady. But let’s go beyond that. This primer is designed to serve as a manual on how to treat yourself as well, because if you don’t have self-respect, how do you expect others to respect you?

Always practice proper posture in all situations.

There’s something refreshing about a man who has the wherewithal to sit up straight when in public. Whether it’s on the bus, in a meeting or out to dinner, maintaining healthy and stable posture helps keeping people from mistaking you for Quasimodo.

Say “Hello!” to whomever you can. Just don’t be overbearing about it.

Growing up in the South, you learn a thing or two about general hospitality towards others; so much so, that it becomes hard not to give a customary greeting to your fellow man on the street. Give a quick “Hello” to a complete stranger and see if it doesn’t change your perspective on what’s really important.

When throwing a party, always maintain the status of “Host”, never “Attendee”.

I know it’s hard not to get into the spirit of things when you’ve thrown a successful shindig at your house, but you must understand that without a good (and coherent) host, you just have a disjointed event. Do yourself a favor and save the celebratory scotch for when the majority of your guests have left.

In the midst of a difficult break up, be the man, but feel pain, too.

Breaking up with someone is not easy. Being broken up with the worst; so know that with it comes sadness, lament, pain and possibly a little depression, too. The trick to a hasty recovery is to know what sadness feels like and identify with what you’re feeling. You’re doing no one any favors if you handle the break up like a child, chances are she’s going to tell her friends who are going to tell their friends. Get the picture?

Be mindful of subject matter when engaging in casual conversation.

As much as I hate small talk in most social situations, it pales in comparison to the heated and egregious conversations that some men engage in. To avoid this, be careful not to invoke any of the three forbidden topics: sports, politics and religion. This is not “Pardon the Interruption” nor is it “Face the Nation”. More often than not, it’s just you and a couple of friends chewing the fat at an event or a local bar. Keep common conversation just that…common.

As mentioned before, this is a primer. I assure you there’s much more that you and I can learn and incorporate in our daily lives, but I guarantee you that if you follow these suggestions carefully, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a gentleman.

Brian Wilder is a regular contributor here at Home Ec 101. You can also find him at Things My Grandfather Taught Me. If you have a question you’d like Brian to answer send it to


  1. Cheryl Smithem on October 20, 2010 at 4:38 am

    As always, Brian's thoughts are so wise. Of course these pointers apply to both genders!

  2. Anna B on October 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Wow – if the men at my work didn't talk about sports, they would never speak! That's all they ever discuss with each other. At length. Sometimes it gets hot, but mostly it's just who should trade who, and who's over rated and who's going to win it all. It seems like that's the kind of talk most guys love – I'm surprised to see sports as a 'taboo' topic among friends!!

    • Stacy on October 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm

      I'm surprised by that too. It seems sports is such a common topic. Anyway, interesting post. I would probably change the list of taboo topics to politics, women, and religion. I've heard guys say such despicable things about women in public and in private. Very sad indeed, not respectful nor gentlemanly.

    • Brian Jacobi Wilder on October 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

      It's more so a topic of discussion that should be kept between you and your closest friends. Nothing grinds my gears more than when I meet someone for the first time and their go-to icebreaker topic is whether I think the Yankees are going to take it all this year…(and, yes, they are).

  3. Ed - People Skills on October 14, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I've realized how important posture is about 2 years ago, when I started taking dancing lessons. Until then, I had never realized how bad a slouching person can look and how good sitting straight and proud can feel. Definitely worth practicing.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.