As a Gentleman Would Say Revised and Expanded: Responses to Life's Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations

As a Gentleman Would Say Revised and Expanded: Responses to Life's Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations

by John Bridges, Bryan Curtis


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On any given day, a man is faced with situations that demand a response. He runs into a friend who was recently fired . . . His date can’t seem to pry herself away from a texting conversation during dinner . . . Someone at his gym routinely monopolizes the equipment . . . He finds himself in a nearly unintelligible conversation with a client who has a thick foreign accent. In each of these scenarios, there are distinct responses that can determine the outcome—for better or worse.

Knowing what to say is essential, because regardless of how many doors he opens or how often he remembers to bring a bottle of wine for the hostess, a gentleman’s reputation is often established on his ability to communicate. In this updated version of As a Gentleman Would Say, John Bridges and Bryan Curtis offer simple reminders and new ideas for any man who is eager to navigate the obstacle course of his own words.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401604691
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/09/2012
Series: The GentleManners Series
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 426,407
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

John Bridges, author of How to Be a Gentleman, is also the coauthor, with Bryan Curtis, of seven other volumes in the best-selling GentleManners series. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society. Bridges has appeared on the Today Show, the Discovery Channel, and CBS Sunday Morning, and has been profiled in People magazine and the New York Times.

Bryan Curtis is an author and the president of Dance Floor Books. He is the author/coauthor and editor of more than 25 books, including My South, My Southern Food, Classic Wisdom for the Good Life, Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life, and the popular GentleManners series.

Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 John Bridges and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-0470-7

Chapter One


A gentleman knows how to begin a conversation.

* * *

A gentleman always thinks before he speaks. He also thinks after he speaks, in order to build upon the rightness, or correct the wrongness, of what he might have said.

* * *

If a gentleman is subjected to a rude remark or rude behavior, he does not offer rudeness in return.

A gentleman allows others to finish their sentences. Even in his most brilliant moments, he does not interrupt others, no matter how dull their opinions might be.

* * *

A gentleman does not talk with his mouth full—even over the phone.

* * *

A gentleman is slow to judge the actions of others, either in their public or private affairs.

* * *

A gentleman does not take part in major arguments over minor issues.

* * *

When a gentleman learns that two friends are to be married, he tells the groom-to-be, "Congratulations," and says, "Best wishes" to the soon A gentleman makes a conscious effort to use correct grammar, but he resists all temptation to sound stuffy and overly grand.

* * *

Unless he is teaching an English class, a gentleman does not correct another person's grammar.

* * *

A gentleman does not use foreign phrases, unless he is absolutely sure of their meaning—and their pronunciation.

* * *

A gentleman does not pretend to speak languages that he has not made his own.

* * *

Even when speaking his own language, a gentleman does not use words that he can define only by looking them up in a dictionary.

Once a gentleman has learned a new word from the dictionary, he attempts to use it correctly, thereby making it his own.

* * *

A gentleman never asks a woman if she is pregnant.

* * *

Even in the most heated discussion, a gentleman avoids raising his voice. He does not shout others down.

* * *

When a gentleman inconveniences another person by asking him or her to shift so that he can move through a crowded room, he says, "Excuse me." He does not say, "I'm sorry," since there is no reason for him to apologize. In fact, a gentleman never says, "I'm sorry," unless he has given offense.

* * *

A gentleman never begins a statement with "I don't mean to embarrass you but ..."

A gentleman does not ask anyone—male or female—to divulge his or her age.

* * *

When a gentleman initiates a telephone conversation, he knows it is his responsibility to end that conversation.

* * *

A gentleman does not use his cell phone when he is at a table with others. Neither does he check his text messages, or exchange text messages with others.

* * *

Once a gentleman discovers that he must decline an invitation that he has already accepted, he promptly alerts his host or hostess. He gives a frank description of the reasons for his change of plan and offers a sincere apology.

When a gentleman receives a number of invitations via voice mail, e-mail, or a social network site, he accepts the first one. Even in the world of the Internet, it is rude to weigh one invitation against another.

* * *

When it comes to accepting social invitations, a gentleman never waits for something better to come along.

* * *

A gentleman does not engage in arguments, of any sort, at the dinner table.

* * *

When a gentleman is confronted by arguments that he considers foolish, he does not attempt to refute them with reason. Instead, he keeps silent, knowing that logic is useless in the war against irrationality.

A gentleman gives direct answers, especially to controversial questions. Being direct, however, is not the same thing as being rude.

* * *

A gentleman never claims to have seen a movie he has not seen or to have read a book about which he has only read reviews. He knows how to say, "I haven't read [or seen] that yet, but from what I hear about it, it sounds very interesting. What do you think?"

* * *

In civil conversation, and when attempting to meet new friends, a gentleman asks the question, "What do you think?" as often as possible.

* * *

A gentleman does not brag, especially about his own accomplishments.

A gentleman knows that the best kind of small talk consists of asking questions, not volunteering information about himself.

* * *

A gentleman never says, "I told you so."

* * *

A gentleman knows how to make an apology—and how to accept one.

* * *

A gentleman knows how to extend a compliment—and how to receive one.

* * *

A gentleman avoids backhanded compliments at all costs.

* * *

A gentleman knows how to make an introduction.

* * *

A gentleman knows how to shake hands and is ready to do so.

A gentleman does not spread rumors. He is even careful about where he spreads sensitive facts.

* * *

When sharing messages on the Internet, through any social network site, a gentleman chooses his words carefully, remembering that his thoughts may very easily be shared with hundreds of other "friends," the majority of whom he may never have met.

* * *

A gentleman always attempts to make sure his breath is fresh, especially if he expects to be in close conversation with others. If necessary, he carries—and uses—breath mints.

* * *

A gentleman makes an effort to keep his hands, especially his fingernails, clean at all times. He never knows when he will be introduced to a new acquaintance, and he never wants to be reluctant to extend his hand in greeting.

A gentleman always carries a clean handkerchief and is ready to offer it in times of great grief—or great joy.

* * *

Whenever a gentleman requests any service or favor, he remembers to say, "Please." He is quick to say, "Thank you," whenever a service or favor has been offered to him.

* * *

When he is invited to participate in some pleasant experience—whether it is a dinner party or major-league baseball game—a gentleman does not dally before saying yes.

* * *

A gentleman understands the meaning of the word no.

* * *

A gentleman knows how to listen.

A gentleman knows that listening is a skill that improves when it is regularly practiced.

* * *

When a gentleman feels that he has been subjected to an insult, he immediately knows the right response: He responds by saying nothing at all.

* * *

A gentleman has definite beliefs, but he thinks before voicing his opinions. He recognizes that other people's beliefs are valid. He argues only over an issue that could save a life.

* * *

In making after-work conversation, a gentleman is wise to leave his work at the office.

* * *

A gentleman does not openly attempt to correct the behavior of his friends. Instead he teaches by example.

A gentleman takes no part in petty arguments over important topics. Instead, he takes action to bring about change.

* * *

A gentleman knows how to end a conversation.


When a gentleman encounters an acquaintance who greets him with "Hi. How are you?" ...

He does not say:

"Actually, I'm having a lousy day. My car's in the shop, and I had to take the dog to the vet. What's worse, I'm behind on my house payment and my girlfriend left me."

"Just great. The promotion came through, and Rolfy just had puppies. Want to see the pictures?"

"What's it to you?"

But he does say:

"Fine. How about you?"

In casual discourse, there are few questions that do not require an answer. This is one of them. Even on his worst days, a gentleman does not stop traffic on the sidewalk so that he can share his woes with an acquaintance who merely intended to say something a little more expansive than a simple "Hello."

When a gentleman runs into a friend who has obviously had cosmetic surgery ...

He does not say:

"Who did your work? I bet it cost a bundle."

"Personally, I plan to grow old gracefully."

"When are you going to have the rest of it done?"

"It's none of my business, but I thought you looked better before."

"If I were you, I'd get my nose done next."

But he does say:

"Hello, Catherine [or Calvin], you're looking great!"

Whether he approves or disapproves of cosmetic surgery, a gentleman has to admit that it creates a social dilemma. His friend has gone under the knife for the purpose of improving his or her appearance. Yet, if the surgery has been successful, its results should be so natural-looking that they are not worth mentioning. A gentleman is better off mentioning a general improvement in his friend's appearance, avoiding the specifics at all costs.

When he runs into a friend who has a new tattoo ...

He does not say:

"I hope you know what that thing is going to look like when you get older."

"I didn't think you were the tattoo type."

"I guess, if you're having a midlife crisis, a tattoo is cheaper than a sports car."

"Well, there goes your chance for that job at the bank."

But he does say:

Nothing—unless he can pay his friend an honest compliment.

A gentleman would never walk up to a friend and say, "That is one ugly shirt," or "What kind of fool gets his hair cut that way?" A gentleman realizes that, for many people, a tattoo is a personal form of expression and that it is their business to do what they please, when it comes to personal adornment, especially if it poses no threat to their health. While a tattoo may not be his style—and even if the tattooed person is his own adult child, an employee or a significant other—he knows the tattoo is probably going to be there for a very long time. He trusts that his relationship with his friend will still be there, even after the tattoo is gone.

When a gentleman encounters a friend who has obviously put on weight ...

He does not say:

"Man, you're bursting out of that jacket, aren't you?"

"I know this great diet—if you want it."

"Why don't you meet me tomorrow morning at the gym? We need to get some of that fat off of you."

"Are you sure you need that second helping of cocktail weenies?"

But he does say:

"Tony, it's great to see you."

A gentleman knows that another person's weight gain, or loss, is absolutely none of his business. He also knows that his wisest course is to shore up a friend's self-esteem, rather than destroy the friend's self-image. Weight gain might be the result of an incapacitating illness, stress, or some other emotional problem. When the friend eventually asks the gentleman's advice, the gentleman may offer it freely, always remembering the other person's feelings. Until then, however, he keeps his opinions to himself.

When a gentleman encounters a friend who has recently been diagnosed with a serious, perhaps incurable, illness ...

He does not say:

"What do you think caused it?"

"Did they tell you how much time you've got?"

"Do you have a will?"

"Bet you wish you'd taken better care of yourself."

"You're looking really good, all things considered."

But he does say:

"Hello, Jessica, how are you doing?"

When a gentleman asks this question, he is not asking for a prognosis, and he allows his friend to answer it in any way he or she prefers. If the friend is able to attend a party, clearly he or she would rather not discuss doctors and hospitals. The gentleman follows the friend's lead in the conversation and feels free to share the news of his own life since that is very likely what his friend would rather hear. At the end of their encounter, the gentleman might, however, want to add, "Let's keep in touch. I want to hear how things are going."

When he runs into a personal friend or acquaintance who has just come out of an addiction recovery program ...

He does not say:

"I don't think I've ever seen you sober at this time of night before."

"Is drying out as brutal as everybody says?"

"I was sure you were going to end up in a ditch somewhere. Congratulations on proving me wrong."

"How about if I buy the next round? Haha."

But he does say:

"It's good to see you, Ted."

A gentleman realizes that, when he runs into an acquaintance who has just gone through a trying experience such as an alcohol or drug recovery program, the last thing that person may wish to talk about is rehab. He knows his acquaintance might prefer to talk about a local sports team or about current politics, so a gentleman lets the other person take the lead. It is perfectly appropriate for him to bring up topics of mutual interest, and to ask "What's new?" or any other question he might usually ask. (If his acquaintance takes offense at an innocent question, a gentleman does not feel offended in return.) If a good friend chooses to share any part of his or her experience, a gentleman does not pry. Instead, he simply says, "I'm really proud of you, Ted [or Tara]." He continues to respect the privacy of any participant in a continuing recovery program such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

When a gentleman, at a party, runs into a friend who has obviously had an injury—particularly an injury that has left scars ...

He does not say:

"Did that hurt?"

"I bet the other guy looks rough."

"Are you always going to have that?"

"Has Michael been beating you again?"

But he does say:

Nothing, unless a comment is absolutely unavoidable.

If a friend is on crutches or if his or her face is swathed in bandages, a gentleman would be less than human if he did not ask, "Jim [or Jamie], what's happened?" Still, he is discreet enough to allow his friend to divulge as little, or as much, information as he or she chooses. If it appears that the injury has left his friend disfigured, a gentleman does not comment on that fact, since it will probably be part of his friend's life from then on. At any rate, a gentleman never makes light of another person's distress or discomfort.

When a gentleman runs into a friend who has been fired from his or her job ...

He does not say:

"How long before you're in financial trouble?"

"What kind of severance package did you get?"

"Are you going to sue?"

"I wish I could get fired. I'd love to live on unemployment for a while."

But he does say:

"I hear you've left the bank. How are things going?"

A gentleman allows his friend to give the details of "leaving" his or her job. If the friend divulges the facts of his or her termination, a gentleman may respond by saying, "That sounds really, really tough," not encouraging him or her to rehash the painful saga. If the friend, however, chooses to discuss his or her job search, a gentleman is unfailingly encouraging, saying, "You're a bright person, Malcolm [or Mary]. Once you're over this hurdle, the right door is going to open, I know." He does not, however, overburden his friend with advice about what he would do. No two people's careers ever follow precisely the same track.

When a gentleman, at a social event, runs into a business associate who has not responded to multiple phone or e-mail messages ...

He does not say:

"I hate to make this awkward, but why have you been avoiding me?"

"What do I have to do to get the kindness of a response from you?"

"Since you won't return my messages, can we talk about the Broadtex merger now for a few minutes?"

But he does say:

"Miranda, it's great to see you."

At some point in the conversation, a gentleman may suggest, "Let's chat, sometime soon, about the Broadtex merger." Otherwise, he steers the conversation toward matters inarguably appropriate to the occasion. He does not mix business matters with social pleasantries. A gentleman returns his own messages as promptly as possible, but he does not assume others will hold themselves to the same noble standard.

When a gentleman encounters a friend who has obviously lost a great deal of weight ...

He does not say:

"Have you been sick?"

"Man, you must have lost fifty pounds. Don't you think it's time to stop?"

"I'm glad you've lost some weight. How do you plan to keep it off?"

"How much more do you want to lose?"

But he does say:

"You look fabulous. Is that a new dress [or a new sports coat]?"

It is not necessary to make specific mention of a friend's weight loss. When a gentleman compliments a friend's appearance, the friend will get the message and might likely be relieved to think the compliment is the result of a whole new sense of well-being, not just the loss of some extra pounds. If a gentleman has any suspicion at all that a friend's weight loss is the result of illness, he does not mention that possibility in public—neither does he spread such rumors among his acquaintances.


Excerpted from AS A GENTLEMAN WOULD SAY by JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS Copyright © 2012 by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


53 Things Every Well-Spoken Gentleman Knows....................1
Around Town....................13
Friends and Lovers....................31
Wining and Dining....................43
On the Job....................49
Affairs of the Heart....................67
At a Dinner Party....................73
At a Cocktail Party....................83
The Host with the Most....................97
Private Lives....................115
Giving, Lending, Borrowing, and Sharing....................127
In Times of Sadness....................137
Awkwardness Extraordinaire....................149
When Good Guys Go Bad....................169

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