Modern Civility: A Gentleman's Guide
Our world today is far different from the world 200 years ago. Traditions have come and gone, and society's rules have evolved. At times, it seems all sense of decorum has been lost in the modern age, which is why practicing modern civility is more important than ever.
With the global community at our fingertips, and communication with unfamiliar cultures being almost commonplace, cultural differences can make it hard to know what to do in certain situations. But civility remains largely the same.
What Is Civility?
Vocabulary.com defines civility as “the act of showing regard for others.” Simply put, civility is being kind and polite to everyone, even those who you might disagree with. Unlike etiquette, which is more a set of rules or customary actions, civility transcends a given situation because it is about the people, not the things, you encounter.
Civility is the sum total of the qualities society believes to most accurately describe excellence in character. The codes and rules we think of—which silverware to use and in what order, how to act during important meetings, how to greet others—are the means to demonstrate that end. Civility is the standard by which we measure an individual’s character, and our values as a society reflect the civility we expect.
Why Is Modern Civility Important?
Modern civility is about more than confidence. It’s about showing courtesy and honor towards others.
Because our cultural values are the foundation of modern civility, it is important to practice them. More than anything, it demonstrates our commitment to treating others with a manner of respect, honor, and care. And it helps others understand whether or not our company is worthy of reciprocal courtesy and dignity. Civility does not simply set a standard of how we should act around others, as rules of etiquette do, but how we should think about others when we interact.
In a society where it’s easy to focus too much on oneself, civility brings the attention back to the people in front of us. Without it, people will feel ignored, patronized, or even denigrated by the choices we make in our communication. When it's so natural to ignore the people around us, civility helps us fight those urges by demanding the comfort of others before our own.
How Do I Practice Modern Civility?
Knowing how important it is to practice it in any social setting, whether casual, formal, or business, it’s time to start putting civility into action. While manners and rules may change as society shifts from one trend to another, true civility is timeless. That’s because civility is founded on bigger ideas than fork placement or fashion faux pas.
Modern civility centers around finding ways to bring confidence and ease to those around you, even in uncomfortable situations. A true gentleman knows how to act and speak in a way that exudes grace and kindness without pity or pride. To become this gentleman in any setting, here are a few basic tenets to follow.
Modern civility is about making others feel confident, comfortable, and honored.
When mistakes are made, be ready as a host or fellow guest to offer forgiveness and kindness to the person at the center of the situation. Dropping a plate or breaking a glass at an important dinner or gala can be mortifying. Be the person to offer help in this situation to minimize embarrassment, just as you would hope someone would do for you. It’s quite easy to look down on someone for a momentary slip in grace and composure, but it makes you look snobbish and cruel.
New experiences mean learning experiences. If you are in unfamiliar territory, be willing to ask about the proper way to show respect and honor. Likewise, be understanding and helpful when someone does the same in a situation you’re more familiar with. Modern civility, contrary to most conventions of etiquette, is not designed to be exclusive, but instead, it should bring people into a place of cooperation and unity.
The most frustrating moments of life are when others disregard you as a person. In practice, modern civility values empathy far above ceremony. Rules and traditions can feel restrictive, but empathy allows people to become part of the community. Don’t spend time criticizing, but take time to educate and encourage people who are stepping into a new environment or culture so that they can show respect in meaningful ways.
Civility is not meant for the elite. It’s the foundation of a strong, dignified, and honorable society. Without it, we fall into patterns of exclusivity, critique, and self focus. More than anything, this quality of character is the work it takes to honor everyone we encounter as important, no matter their station in life. The true gentleman is tasked with bringing the outsider in and putting the anxious at ease so that camaraderie and brotherhood become the centerpiece of any gathering.
Modern Civility, Elevated Style
With modern civility to guide us, Ox & Bull believes that fine fashion, distinguished style, and a refined look should be part of every man’s life. We design our men’s jewelry and accessories with this in mind, and we design with a passion for pieces that can establish a legacy of honor and strong character.
From our simplest designs to custom molded pieces that represent our greatest passions and pursuits, every cufflink, shirt stud, tie bar, and lapel pin is designed to speak of the discipline that builds men of integrity. After all, your look should speak for you the moment you step into the room.