1. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. The Golden Rule truly is a time honored guide for treating others with class. Giving others advance notice before cancelling dinner invitations, speaking up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, calling your parents to update them on yourself, checking in with friends; these are all simple gestures that demonstrate your class and authenticity. Ensure you choose friends who share your values.
2. Choose your battles, choose your friends. Few battles are truly worth fighting. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves (the elderly, children, mentally disabled, etc.) Be wary of those who appear to enjoy bickering. If someone is rude to you, either ignore him or her completely or, once you have completely calmed down and are thinking clearly, explain how you perceived his or her actions and work towards a resolution. You can also treat them with polite disdain–be polite but let them subtly know that you don’t appreciate what they are doing. Never stoop to their level, and do not be hasty. Surround yourself with positive, polite people who encourage and live your classy, intelligent lifestyle.
3. Choose your words. The classy individual listens more than he or she speaks. Having a strong vocabulary is important, but do not use a word unless you are certain of its meaning. Use words to express yourself clearly. Importantly, do not correct others when they use improper grammar. Differences in background, family life, and education cause people to speak differently, and people often use slang for effect. More than this, it is irritating and degrading to be corrected by a know-it-all.
4. Do not insult, gossip, or slander. When necessary, voice your opinions appropriately and constructively. This encourages your audience to listen carefully when you speak.
5. Be independent. You must be courteous, but do not bend over backwards to please others. If you do, you may find yourself being taken advantage of in the future. Limit your time and availability and draw boundaries with others so that they are aware of your limits.
6. Break the stereotype shackles. More often than not, using labels in any way, whether to identify yourself or others shows a lack of creativity, lethargic social skills, and a lack of careful observation. Give everyone respect and the benefit of doubt.
7. Be assertive. Avoid passive-aggressive thinking; this is likely to trip you up eventually. Assertiveness demonstrates maturity, thoughtfulness, and confidence. Class requires balance, and assertiveness is a prime example of this concept.
8. Define yourself with a clean and elegant look. Excellent presentation is half of the battle. Wear clothing and accessories, which flatter your body and never wear anything you feel uncomfortable in. It is important to remember that modesty is key in earning the respect of others. A bit of cleavage may be fashionable, but true gentlemen will appreciate modesty more than exposure.
9. Avoid getting caught up in trends. There is nothing wrong with enjoying fashion or buying clothing you find attractive, but it is important to stay in control.
* Do not become a slave to fashion, or you may be regarded as foolish, “high maintenance”, and/or shallow. The clothing you wear should enhance your personality, not create or alter it. This advice can be applied to many aspects of life in which you may feel pressured to “fit in.”
10. Know when to ask for help, but avoid desperate behavior. This is the kiss of death for the classy person. Only desperate times call for desperate measures. Take a deep breath, be strong, and move through the situation with elegance and grace. You will be the victor for it, no matter the outcome. If things get out of hand and you feel completely overwhelmed, ask for help from a close friend or family member.
11. Seek wisdom. As difficult as it can be to heed the advice of those more experienced than yourself, it is a necessary step at times. No matter your age or ability, allow yourself to learn from the mistakes and victories of those older or more experienced than you. You will win their favor and be available to pass on your own wisdom or advice.
12. Be open to personal development. Do not berate yourself, but be receptive to constructive change. In our world, change is inevitable. Be a positive and flexible part of it and show others the way as well. Face life rather than burying your head in the sand and others will know instinctively that you are someone whose opinion counts.
13. Be knowledgeable and aware. It is wise to become politically, culturally, and religiously aware. Even the most basic knowledge can save a person from embarrassment and awkwardness. If you know in advance that you will be spending time with someone of an unfamiliar background, it is a good idea to do more in-depth research to avoid embarrassing faux pas.
14. Be responsible. Classy people leave their surroundings in a condition at least as good as they found them. Unless they are in a restaurant with wait staff whose job it is to do the clearing up, classy people insist on taking care of their own trash and baggage, not expecting others to pick up after them. And when others do favors for them, while stuck-up or spoiled people assume it’s only to be expected and ignore others’ assistance, truly classy people are quick to notice and to express their gratitude and their appreciation.
15. Be considerate. Truly classy people instinctively recoil at the thought of inconveniencing others, offending them, getting in other peoples’ way, or in any way making nuisances of themselves. Classy people are all about minding their own business when among strangers and putting others at ease when in social situations. Truly classy people are gracious and affable to everyone, whether the CEO, the mail carrier, or the custodian. Classy people know others’ names and use them when greeting people they see regularly, whether the door attendant, the security guard, or the boss’ wife. Classy people treat everyone the same – with courtesy and respect.
16. Be Real. If you have class, live in a way of which you should be proud. If you have to be phony and deceptive then you should consider why. A person of honor and integrity never needs to hide behind a facade. If you can’t show your true self to the world then who will people see?