In our bustling world, we regularly encounter people who are not using their manners, being mindful of others, or even putting an effort into the way they have presented themselves to the world. As a result, when someone shows us a common courtesy or is pulled together, we really notice! I believe we should all strive to be that little bit more polished, that little bit more courteous, and be the change we wish to see. Read on for 25 quick tips to be more elegant, polished, and poised each day!
1. Maintain good posture.
Stand with your shoulders back and keep your eye line high. If you are looking down at your feet, your head inevitably follows. Pull your stomach in and place your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
2. Smile and offer a firm handshake when meeting someone new.
First impressions matter. A warm smile and a firm handshake show confidence and a welcoming demeanor.
3. Remove your sunglasses when introducing yourself.
Eye contact is important, especially when first meeting someone. By removing our sunglasses, we show respect for the other person. Furthermore, consider this: if you only met someone with sunglasses on, then saw them without on the street, would you remember their face? Removing your sunglasses helps the other person form a mental picture by showing them your face.
4. Greet people with an uplifting, “good morning!”
Or depending on the time of day, “good afternoon” or “good evening.” There is something so inviting and polite about these greetings. Offering a stranger a warm, “good morning” while walking the dogs simply makes for a more polite society.
5. Opt for more formal forms of speech.
Instead of, “thanks,” say “thank you.” In place of “sure,” try “certainly.” Swap “hi” for “hello” (or “good morning!” as above). These small changes can make a significant difference in how you are perceived.
6. Use the correct response to someone asking, “how are you?”
The correct response to “how are you?” is “I am well, thank you. How are you?”
7. The words “please” and “thank you” will always be important.
Add to this, “you’re welcome” and “excuse me.” There is a reason these are among the first manners we teach our children. They are foundational!
8. Take care with your body language.
Often our body language will be believed over our words. For example, if you say “I am so happy to be here” with slumped shoulders and a frown, your body language is speaking louder than your words.
9. Give your full attention.
If you are in conversation with someone, be present with them. Do not look around the room, check your phone, or run through your to-do list in your head. Being in the moment and asking thoughtful questions is how we make true connections.
10. Respect the privacy of others.
Never pry into someone’s personal life. Ask yourself, am I asking because I truly need to know, or is it just to satisfy my own curiosity? If it is the latter (and it usually is) do not ask further questions.
11. Learn the difference between “can I” and “may I?”
“Can I” is about ability whereas “may I” is about permission. You can borrow my pen but do I want you to? “May I” is the correct way to ask permission, i.e. “may I borrow your pen?”
12. Be punctual.
Elegant people are not late nor are they in a rush. Arriving on time show you are respectful of another person’s time. Leave the house a little early wherever possible to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
13. Address others with the correct pronouns.
The pronouns “they” and “them” might be new to many but they are simply a matter of respect. Do your very best to address a person with the pronouns they identify with. If a person corrects you on their pronouns it is polite to apologize, thank them for the correction, and use the correct pronoun thereafter. If you say the wrong pronoun and catch yourself, take a moment to correct yourself, i.e. “I’m sorry, I meant ‘they,’” and continue with what you were saying.
14. Limit your use of chewing gum.
Did you know it is not permissible to chew gum in the presence of the Royal Family? Chewing gum certainly is not the most elegant practice. It is similar to chewing food, if you must chew gum it should only be done with the mouth closed, never smacked, and one should never talk at the same time.
Truthfully, gum should not be chewed or disposed of in public, and on the whole, it is preferable to use mints for breath refreshment.
15. Do not gossip.
The adage “what Suzy says of Sally says more of Suzy than of Sally,” will forever hold true. It is simply not polite to speak ill of others or speculate on another person’s circumstances.
16. Send thank-you notes.
A handwritten thank-you note will always be elegant. Send them in response to gifts, dinner parties, or when someone has simply done something nice for you. Choose chic stationery and always handwrite them.
17. Dress up.
Dress for the occasion, my darlings! Even if that occasion is simply going to the grocery store. You will always feel good knowing you pulled yourself together.
18. Apply perfume with care.
One of the easiest ways to tell if you are wearing too much perfume is if you can smell it on yourself after a few minutes. Furthermore, if you leave a room and your scent lingers, you may have too much on. Ask a friend or partner so you can adjust accordingly in the future.
19. Be mindful of cell phone usage around others.
Oh, the cell phone. This is an article in and of itself (more on that here). In short: avoid using your cell phone around others, i.e. step away from others to take calls; Do not use speakerphone or scroll with the volume on in public spaces; And take care with your ring volume in quiet zones such as theaters, yoga studios, and spas or nail salons.
Did you know the tone of the human voice changes when we are smiling? In fact, humans can recognize that a person is smiling by the tone of their voice alone. A smile puts others at ease and helps to make a great first impression.
21. Tip generously.
Tip a minimum of 20% in service-based transactions, including restaurants and spa services.
22. Mind your temper.
We must always aim to respond rather than react. If tensions run high, you may want to excuse yourself. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, consider the issue from the other person’s point of view, and pause for some deep breaths. When you return, try starting with: “hat I am hearing is you feel this. That was not my intention.”
This goes for digital correspondence, too. Do not write an email while angry and never use all caps (also known as yelling in digital speak).
23. Learn the art of the apology.
There are few things less elegant than being unable to acknowledge a mistake. Learning to take accountability and apologize for wrongdoing, however small, is a sign of emotional maturity. Remember, if your choices, words, or behavior hurts a person’s feelings, those feelings are valid. Regardless of whether you feel they are overreacting or out of line, their feelings matter and an apology is necessary.
24. Take care of your wardrobe.
Choose pieces that suit you and take great care of them. An iron, a steamer, a reliable dry cleaner, and an excellent tailor will make all the difference.
25. Be YOU.
Elegance is not about putting on airs or a phony persona, it is about being the best possible version of yourself. Learn what you love, what flatters your very essence, and what makes your heart sing so that you can better honor yourself and your unique personality.