Whether we like it or not, people judge people right away, and all the time. We might be open minded enough to give people time to reveal their personalities and stories, but there is a judgment that happens at first glance. It’s not offensive, it’s evolutionary. It’s what tells you to walk a bit faster at night when it’s just you and one other person on the street. It’s what tells helps you decide which new colleague or classmate you’re going to talk to first in the hopes of building a friendship. We might not always be correct in our judgements and only time will tell, but the fact is, we make them. That means of course, that in turn we are constantly being judged. And whether it’s right or wrong, those judgements can decide who gets a second round job interview, a free upgrade at a hotel, better service in retail and hospitality experiences. Is it wrong? Yeah, maybe. But I have personal experience in being on the receiving end of both preferential treatments and the downright awful and I know what made the difference and I most certainly know which I prefer. I want the good treatment, and if you do to, then all you have to do is be classy! Don’t worry, it’s easier and cheaper than you might think. Keep reading for my classy tips.
What is Classy?
“Classiness” is often associated with wealth, but the Merriam-Webster Dictionary merely defines it as “high quality: Elegance”, further defining “Elegance” as dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style“.
To be classy, one needn’t have abundant wealth and there are many of the wealthiest people who completely lack class. As the old saying goes, money can’t buy class. exuding class and elegance – I’ll use them interchangeably for this article – is being considerate of the people around you. It’s making people feel comfortable. It’s about not coming across as rude, threatening, snobby, dirty, unnecessarily provocative, anything that might make people feel uneasy and it’s putting your best foot forward and making the best impression of yourself. Anyone can become classy. It’s a lifestyle and it might take practice if its very different to how you’re used to living, but it’s a good skill to be adaptable to different situations. That brings us nicely into the tips:
How to be Classy
- Look at your social surroundings. You want to fit in so as to avoid making people feel uncomfortable. For example, if you’re at a formal dinner party in London, you would eat with the cutlery provided. If you’re travelling to an entirely different culture where the people eat with their hands then you do that. Elegant behaviour differs across cultures, so remember, your first priority is to make people feel at ease and appreciated.
2. Stay in control of your emotions. By all means you can express your emotions calmly, but don’t cause a scene and never raise your voice in public, especially at service workers who really aren’t going to go out of their way to give you what you want if you’re just being rude and mean. The same goes for happy emotions. You might be having a wonderful time with your friends, but don’t scream and cackle and be obnoxiously loud in public. It comes across as incredibly rude and tacky. There will be exceptions and this is when the public usually will want to join in on your celebration for example: you just got engaged in a public place – if it’s appropriate for the place, most people will be very happy and with you.
3. Don’t forget your manners. Greet people when you enter any establishment – especially peoples homes. Don’t forget your pleases and your thank you’s. Don’t use foul language. Don’t be passive aggressive and please, don’t release wind loud and proud as though everyone wants to hear it. You’d be amazed at how often I witness this in public and by more females than males. I’m not sure what the end goal is with this attention seeking behaviour, but it certainly isn’t classy.
4. Speak clearly. Mumbling just screams uncertainty and no one is going to trust someone who doesn’t sound sure of what they’re saying. It’s also rude and when people have to ask you to repeat yourself more than once, it’s uncomfortable for them and you know by now that elegant behaviour considers others needs and feelings. If you’re shy, you don’t have to say much. No one is asking you to be the life of the party, but when do do speak, do it clearly. Even better, would be if you would pronounce your words correctly. Especially when speaking to people who are hard of hearing or who may not be fluent English speakers. These people will really appreciate you making the effort to be more understandable. Consider elocution lessons if this is something you know you struggle with. There are so many elocution lessons for free on YouTube these days too so you don’t need to spend a cent.
5. Dress appropriately at all times. If there’s a dress code – adhere to it. Don’t know what it means? Google it, or ask someone experienced in the situation. I remember my very first corporate job after years of retail. I was so unsure what to wear but I went by incognito prior to the interview to look at what the other women were wearing. Then I did my best to get similar looking items from Zara and H&M and when I was informed of my success, I asked for clarity on the dress code including what colours are acceptable.
6. Along a similar vein as the above point, dress appropriately for the season and especially don’t wear open toe shoes in winter. That one is seemingly such a small thing but it can be a real elegance killer, especially if you’ve tried really hard to look the part. There will be exceptions when it’s ok but if you’re a beginner just wear closed toe shoes in winter – Oh – and to work!
7. Be neat and clean. Take care of your hygiene by bathing regularly and having clean and groomed hair. If you don’t have time to wash your hair (I know the struggle), invest in some dry shampoo. As for styling your hair, just make sure it’s neat and deliberately, intentionally styled. You don’t need any make up or nail polish if you don’t want to but again, be clean and tidy. Pay special attention to your oral hygiene by checking your teeth in a mirror after eating and always carry mints with you in case you’ve had something stinky.
8. Wear simple clothing. As the definition above states – elegance is a restrained beauty. It isn’t loud and attention seeking. Of course there are lots of elegant clothes with loud patterns and prints, but if you’re a beginner and not sure how to wear these things elegantly, stick to simple block colours or neutrals, or basic patterns like stripes and polka dots. If you really want to wear a pattern, keep it on the bottom half of your body with something solid on top so you don’t get overwhelmed by the pattern. Eventually, you’ll start to figure out what “louder” clothing is classy and how and when to wear it.
9. Don’t gossip. If someone tells you some gossip, you don’t have to repeat what you’ve heard, especially if you can’t even be sure it’s all true or it’s something you’re pretty sure the subject wouldn’t want people taking about.
10. Keep your social media clean. Once something is on the internet, it’s always on the internet. So be kind online and don’t post any incriminating photos or videos of what happened on your wild weekend.
Bonus tip: Take the high road and rise above people’s expectations of you. In this life, people will try to bait you and sabotage you especially if they are jealous of your journey towards self improvement. Don’t fall victim to that behaviour and make yourself proud.
These simple tips cost nothing, but can improve your life in so many ways. From little, superficial ways such as getting a complimentary coffee at your local cafe just to keep you coming back because you’re the kind of person they want seen in their cafe. Or maybe it’s just because you’re always kind and they are grateful to you for that. Even better, these behaviours can open up doors and introduce you to people you might not have ever had the opportunity to meet and you just don’t know how these people could change your life. Some of you out there might feel embarrassed if this is very different from how you were raised. Don’t be. If you are wanting to do this for yourself, then your family and friends should be supportive. As long as you don’t make them feel you think you’re above them, you should be able to practice most of these inoffensive habits in front of your closest circle, and practice makes perfect.
I’d love to know what you think of these tips and which one you’re currently working on!
Til next time,
Well written post and I consider myself as a classy man🙏🔥🔥