What's the most impressive thing about the Kingsman secret agents?
It's not their high-tech gadgets.
Or the fact they have excellent fighting skills. In fact, I'll tell you what impressed me the most. And I'll do it by describing my favourite scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Eggsy, a Kingsman trainee, is drinking beer with his mentor Hary Hart (a seasoned Kingsmen), in his local pub. Then some gangsters come along and give Eggsy a hard time. Hary asks these hooligans to provide him and Eggsy a moment to speak. The thugs are not pleased with the request. They warn Hary that if he doesn't mind his business, then he will get a beat down.
Hary understands the threat.
So he gets up and walks to the door. But he doesn't leave the pub. In fact, he starts turning all the locks on the door. Leaving the place wholly locked. As he is doing this, he quotes William Horman and says, "Manners Maketh Man."
And then Hary walks toward the thugs and whoops their butts singlehandedly. Where he gives them a proper lesson on having manners.
I, too, want to teach a manners lesson, minus a whoop-ass. Now you might be wondering why I am bringing up manners. It's basic stuff, like not being a jerk, right?!
Wrong, my fellow nerd.
Anyone can give the bare minimum with manners. And that hardly impresses others. Refined manners are something displayed by a mature individual.
An individual who is comfortable with themselves and doesn't need any spotlight. Such beautiful manners that the people you interact with can't help feeling good and remembering the encounter.
So how do we get these types of manners?
It's a simple concept, but remember, it's not as commonly practiced.
It's to be Considerate.
That is what you're most likely thinking.
But the thing with being considerate is that it touches upon something special in the other person. Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People is dedicated to this particular thing.
So what is it?
Considerateness reinforces another person's self-worth. In our daily lives, we all have our challenges. Whether it be with family, lovers, work, etc. And few people pay attention to the things others go through.
Yet, when you meet someone considerate, they will make your day a little better. And if you meet them consistently, it will be a pleasure dealing with them.
Don't discount the things that make others feel better about themselves. Maya Angela made a comment on this:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
And to feel is all about being human.
So it makes sense why considerateness would have such a simple but profound impact on others. But enough talk.
How do we be more considerate?
There are two ways to start getting at this:
I've touched on this before, but it bears repeating. Even though this seems banal, listening to others is an art.
And if you don't believe me.
Let me tell you a situation I'm sure most of us have experienced.
You and your friend are in a conversation.
They say their piece, and you "listen". As your friend talks, thoughts pop up, like what you will say next, what to eat for dinner, and other random obligations.
Then when it's finally your turn to talk.
You start spewing off the points that are collected in your head. As you're talking, your friend nods their heads. Yet, you get the feeling they are not listening. Since they are just shaking their head at everything you say, even the things you think would be opposed to their views.
Even though this was a "conversation," nobody really listened to each other.
Listening looks easy, but it isn't.
To be a better listener, you must make the other person your sole focus. Being genuinely interested in them and asking questions about them.
All this will make the other person feel heard. Especially in a world where it's easy to feel unnoticed throughout the day. And who wouldn't feel better after this?
Remember that being a better listener requires catching yourself daydreaming and adjusting your focus on the person. This might be hard at first, but this will naturally become a habit with conscious practice. Another thing you can turn into a routine is diplomacy.
The whole aspect of diplomacy is not to have the other person feel attacked or insulted.
Again, this seems easy.
But it's not. We are all aware of how we feel when someone says something hurtful (regardless of whether it was intentional or not). Yet, when we hurl comments at others, we don't consider whether it will hurt the other person or not.
Have you ever been in an argument that got out of control? And by the end of the discussion, you don't even realize how it started.
You and the other person were so caught up in feelings that the argument escalated far from the main issue.
This is because you were more involved with how you felt and not how the other person felt. And the same goes for the other person.
So when being diplomatic, we take the other stance and become aware of how the other person will feel when speaking and engaging with them.
And if we do this well enough, we'll learn how to make each person feel better each time they engage with us. Whether genuinely complimenting them, being sensitive to their feelings, and ensuring we don't hurt them.
Very few people possess the consideration of where people thoroughly enjoy being around them. And with practice, you will be part of this rare class.
Although people like carrying themselves with class, they have one objection to this whole manners thing: Aren't I repressing myself, then?
I am not saying to hide your authentic and honest self. I am saying that you want to think about others a little more when dealing with them.
If you need to have a challenging conversation with someone, have a little tact instead of bum-rushing them with it.
Or if you need to engage in conflict with someone. Do it nobly and, if possible, in a way that doesn't make the other person feel worse.
One of the issues is people don't have tact.
You can be your honest self and still be considerate. Throughout history, there have been examples of treating enemies with manners. It didn't hide the fact that they were mortal enemies but showed that you can still be considerate. I can list examples from fact and fiction, but I want to mention one from a poem.
Near the end of the Iliad, Achilles has Hector's body. Hector's father, Priam, sends messengers to Achilles, asking for Hector's body, but Achilles refuses the request. Because he was angry at Hector for killing his best friend, Patroclus.
One night Priam sneaks into Achilles's tent.
And there, he asks for his son's body in person. Priam displays eloquent and genuine manners to Achilles. Understanding what his son did and not hiding that fact. But treating Achilles like the noble he is.
Achilles sees the old man, and something in him melts. So in return, he treats Priam properly. He agrees to give the body. But his considerateness doesn't end there.
He takes care of Priam as a guest for the night. Ensuring he has food and proper accommodations for the night. And before Priam departs, he grants the request of allowing Troy 12 days to mourn Hector and then go back to war.
Even though these men are still enemies at war.
Which will resolve soon after the night; they both show manners to reinforce the other person's self-worth.
Aristocratic Greeks were taught the Iliad and Odyssey because they had everything to prepare an individual for life.
And to a certain extent, I believe this.
Because seeing such examples of manners (and other virtues) from the Iliad, shows us timeless and applicable it is.
But, even with the eminence of manners, we dorks can still make silly mistakes.
One of them is not being genuine with manners.
What do I mean by this?
Where you act "nice."
This is just lame. Because it's not genuine and comes off as tacky. Nobody likes to deal with inauthenticity, even its manners. We want real people.
Because genuine people make us feel better and remind us that we are dealing with a real human being.
Going back to an earlier example.
When you pretend to listen to a conversation. You look lovely, nodding your head and all. But it has the other person feeling they were not heard. So again, you are being friendly but not genuine.
So be genuine, especially when being considerate.
In a world full of illusions, genuine people are the oasis. And this will naturally attract others to spend time with you. Anyways, let's hop onto the summary.
To have refined manners, you need to be considerate. Which happens to make people feel better about themselves when interacting with you
To be considerate, you need to listen more and be diplomatic.
Listening more requires genuinely focusing on the other person, not the thoughts that distract you.
Being diplomatic involves taking the other's personal feelings into consideration.
You are not repressing yourself when being considerate. You can still be honest, deal with conflict etc. It's just that you want to take the other person's feelings into consideration and have tact.
Countless examples of enemies treating each other with manners. Such as Achilles and Priam's interactions.
A silly mistake is not being genuine with manners. People can know when someone is not being genuine, even with manners. So be genuine when being considerate.
Now, who knew a lesson on manners would be fun?
Or maybe I'm just a dork?
But I hope you come away with adding something to your daily toolbox.
Life is all about interacting with others. And if you can make the other person feel a little better, it can do wonders for you. It's a simple lesson that is not talked about enough. So as you go out for the day, remember this lesson. Otherwise, I will have to whoop your ass.
The Charismatic Nerd