As men of this society, knowing how to verbally interact with those around you is crucial. There are many instances that require an ability to speak with others, including formal professional duties, as well as less formal social settings. However, there are certain ways a gentleman ought to speak that set him apart from the casual chit-chat of ordinary men, which is vitally important to how others perceive you as a person even before they get to know you. Below are a few key points that a real gentleman should always keep true when he opens his mouth:
Be Accurate and Exact in Your Speaking
Let’s say you’re telling a story to a friend, and you failed to mention accurately the specific time, date, people involved, specific events that took place, or specific conversations that took place, and instead merely gave an approximation to these matters. These may seem like a trivial matter to many people. After all, who can remember every little detail of any given event? However, by lacking accuracy and exactness in your account, you may have unwittingly sabotaged your credential, making your words carry little weight in the eyes of those around you. Speaking like a gentleman means that people have confidence in what you say, and would not lightly disregard it as the rant of an ill-advised fool.
Take another example, you were asked about the housing price in your neighborhood by a friend who is looking to move there. Now, many people may not know the answer to that question unless they are in the real estate business. Do you offer an approximation using your own house as a reference? To ordinary men, this may be a logical and acceptable approach. A true gentleman might not only offer up the price of his own house as a reference point, but might even offer to confirm a more accurate figure on behalf of the friend. This kind of speaking will inspire people’s confidence in you as a person and regard you as someone whose words can be trusted.
Speak Confidently, but Never Arrogantly
It may seem obvious that confidence and arrogance are two completely different things. However, in the process of learning how to speak like a gentleman, many men may inadvertently come off as haughty and arrogant. When it comes to speaking, it is important to allow others to sense that you are confident in what you say. This has everything to do with your tone, your volume, and even your body language. Speak calmly and clearly, don’t brush over details. Speak with a moderate volume, not too loud or too quiet, unless the setting requires a louder or quieter voice. And maintain a healthy posture, not slouched over or gazing from side to side while speaking, which may give your audience the impression that you are either unsure, or you simply don’t care. Paying attention to these small matters may even allow you to feel more confident in your own speaking.
However, in separating confidence and arrogance, it is important to remember that a conversation should be treated as dialogue rather than monologue, meaning one: you are not the only one speaking, therefore you should not only speak of yourself but allow others to speak their point, and second: be ready to accept that others may not agree with everything you say. The second point is critical in separating confidence and arrogance. You may be 100% sure what you said was correct, but if the other party still disagrees with you, what do you do? You may offer up additional evidence to reinforce your account, but never make it a point to “enforce” your idea unto others; let them make their own judgement. Remember, it is okay to “reinforce”, but never acceptable to “enforce”. Reinforcing your point may increase people’s confidence and even your own confidence in what you said, but make it clear that you are willing to respect and even consider the views of an opposing speaker.
Speak Boldly, but Never Aggressively
Just as it is imperative to draw the line between confidence and arrogance, when learning how to speak like a gentleman, it is also important to make a clear distinguish between boldness and aggression. Boldness and confidence go hand-in-hand. When you are confident in what you say, it is easier to become bold. Being bold does not necessarily mean being loud or overpowering. Boldness has everything to do with genuinely believing in what you speak. Being aggressive, on the other hand, may be the result of an attempt to cover up your own lack of confidence. People often speak with an aggressive tone as a sort of “distractor” when they feel like their point of view is being rightfully challenged and that the foundation on which their point stands is being shaken to its core. When a gentleman genuinely believes in what he speaks, he is empowered to speak with unshakable boldness that cannot be touched even by his most violent opposition.
One fine example of this speaking is the Gettysburg Address, given by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The speech itself lasted no more than three minutes and made little legislative impact. However, it was spoken with boldness because Lincoln believed strongly in what he spoke, and the impact on his audience was tremendous because they knew how genuine his words were. In learning how to speak like a gentleman, you need not have the power of a well-respected historical figure. The key is that your speaking carries the confidence of a well-informed man and the fragrance of a genuine intent.
Speak Genuinely, but Never Rudely
Being genuine does not necessary mean you say whatever is on your mind. It does mean, however, that you make it clear what your real views and intents are. In learning how to speak like a gentleman, it is important to keep in mind that, on the one hand, you should never put on a false front, but in the process of being genuine and real, you should always be courteous and maintain class. Take for example, you feel the way one of your colleague treats you is unfair compared to the way he treats certain other people in the office. In learning how to speak like a gentleman, one of the biggest test comes when it is time to address unpleasant matters. Will you approach this matter with righteous anger or with humility? Do you call him out on it in the spirit of being genuine? Or passively accept the suffering? Some people may take a more “proactive” approach and confront their colleague regarding this unfair treatment. While most people will “suck it up” and instead complain to their colleagues who share a similar experience, neither of which follows the way of how to speak like a gentleman.
In a direct confrontation with your colleague, you may feel like you are being “genuine”, but in the process you abandon class and courtesy. Those who see this may regard you as a “fighter”, but not as someone who can be expected to maintain a calm demeanor in a critical situation. In avoiding a direct confrontation but instead complaining to other colleagues, you may be perceived as someone who likes to talk behind the back of others and cannot be trusted. A true gentleman will seek an opportunity to address this concern calmly and even professionally with his offender in an effort to reconcile any differences, preferably away from the professional setting and away from the prying eyes of your colleagues. At best, you will reconcile and the work life will be easier for the both of you going forward. At worst, the other party will reject your goodwill, but will inevitably sense your genuine intent. It is now up to him to make things right with you, while you can continue your everyday life with class and a clear conscience. Learning how to be a gentleman does not require you to learn how to be friends with everybody, but it does require you to learn how to speak genuinely without forsaking a classy demeanor.
In addition to the points mentioned above, there are many other matters to consider when learning how to speak like a gentleman. The points above ought to be used as a foundation to be built upon. You are also encouraged to reflect on these key elements after any significant verbal interaction as an evaluation to see if you put them into practice. Do not be discouraged if you do not follow through with everything right away. Speaking like a gentleman may not come as naturally for many people, but by being conscious of these critical points, any man can learn how to speak like a gentleman.