IT Employment

10 tips for becoming a gentlemanly exec

Is there a place for gentlemen (and gentlewomen) in today's go-go, go get-'em business world? London Times writer William Drew thinks so. Here are his tips for those aspiring to bring a little class to the workplace.

In a recent article in the London Times, William Drew asks, "Is the gentleman a dying breed?" In the piece, Drew quotes Yann Debelle de Montby, brand director at Alfred Dunhill, the tony men's outfitter. "Being a true gentleman," he says, "means being gallant and generous. One can be gentle but remain firm, determined and retain a great sense of humour."

But does the gentleman have a place in today's go-go, go get-'em business world? Drew thinks yes. "Old-fashioned good manners -- holding open doors, standing up when someone enters the room, asking questions of others rather than talking about yourself, ensuring that you compliment your host generously and so on -- are an entry point for respectful behavior," he notes. "But it's more about your overall manner towards others: how one conducts oneself not only socially, but also in business, in relationships and in public."

But being a modern-day gentlemen in business is about more than just being nice for nice's sake, especially when the chips are down. Says luxury goods retailer, Trevor Pickett: "When your back's against the wall in any industry you fall back on the relationships that you have built with people. You can't do that if you've just screwed them on price, for example. That's just not the way we do things."

Drew offers 10 tips for the aspiring modern-day gentlemen (which go equally well for the modern-day gentlewoman).

Note: This article originally appeared as a post in the BNET Intercom blog. It's also available as a PDF in the TechRepublic downloads library.

  1. Some things don't change: Say please and thank you and ask questions about other people rather than talk about yourself.
  2. Be punctual. Tardiness does not make you look important, it turns you into an arrogant incompetent who thinks that his time is more important than other people's.
  3. The modern gentleman cares about the planet. Be environmentally aware (but not obnoxious about it).
  4. Open doors for people and stand up when they enter a room, but do this for men as well as women. The modern gentleman doesn't treat women like porcelain.
  5. Be modest. Bragging is distinctly ungentlemanly.
  6. Be a good father. Nothing is less charming than a man who leaves childcare to women.
  7. Be honest about wherever you have come from in life. Pretension is spineless.
  8. Flirt -- with everyone. Good flirting is a form of politeness. Pay compliments and put your companion at ease.
  9. Do not phone/text/check your BlackBerry incessantly.
  10. Dress tidily. Whatever style you are going for, scruffiness just isn't in.

I, for one, shall be doing my level best to flirt with everyone much more often.


How about you?

Do you think it's important to act like a gentleman or gentlewoman in today's IT environment? Do your bosses, co-workers, and users typically exhibit good manners -- or bad? Do you try to behave according to the principles outlined above, or do you think they represent an outmoded concept?

7 comments
ealexander
ealexander

It's nice to see someone else concerned about the sharp decline of common manners in business anymore. I would also like to add another tip for use of language - specifically profanity. With close friends or on the basketball court I may throw out the odd curse. But I'm always surprised when a prospective vendor will walk in and then after having met me for 5 mintues will curse during normal conversation ("Man, the f****** traffic was bad this morning!"). I know some people don't mind it, but I immediatly deduct 10-20 points off of their I.Q. when it seems like their vocabulary is so small that they need to use profanity to get their point across.

jlafitte
jlafitte

In the current business environment of the United States, flirting is an invitation either to a law suit or a pink slip. Lawyers and petty bureaucrats have placed land mines all around even playful interaction between the genders on this side of the pond. Often some other problem is the real issue, but sexual harassment is so broadly defined that it makes a convenient weapon to settle other, not sexually-related battles. I'm a little surprised - I thought that flirting on the job would have been condemned by Europe's bureaucrats as unacceptable behavior long ago.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

I was on a conference call about 4 months ago with a potential vendor for a large project, and up until that point, we had only exchanged e-mails. I was a little surprised at the language used. Since then, at least 2 times per week, I hear something bordering on inappropriate being dropped in the course of a business-related conversation. I've also noticed a LOT more getting through the TV sensors. Specifically, female dog, donkey and nickname for Richard. Of course, it was my 5 year old step-daughter that (gleefully) brought it to my attention. When the Ultimate Fighter is the only show on TV that does a respectable job in censoring language, society is in trouble!! :)

gord_willms
gord_willms

I too will attempt to do my share of flirting - but flirting in a business context not a saloon context. And you better know the difference if you want to try it - it's sort of like the difference between flirting in a bar drinking gin wearing a cocktail dress and flirting while drinking coffee in business attire. For example, no sexual overtones whatsoever - obviously. Just firting in the sense of playful and superficial flattery within one on one interactions.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That $50 on the night table is so impersonal. A $5 McDonald's gift certificate shows you care.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Flirting is friendly. Harassment is about power. But you're right about the stupidity part.

HimDownStairs
HimDownStairs

Yeah, $50 on the night table comes off like you're a big shot trying to buy off a secretary. The $5 McDonalds gift card lets them think about you in the drive thru and during their morning coffee. Palmetto = Wisdom.

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