Wherever you go in life there will always be those who do not see fit to behave with decorum or respect for themselves or for others. Bad behaviour is not just restricted to the men of this world and sometimes handling these situations is a true test of a Perfect Gentleman.
There are a number of things to take into consideration: the type of behaviour in question; your relationship with the ‘culprit’; and lastly, those who are affected by the behaviour.
Let’s take a look at some sample situations:
You have just held open a door for a lady. She walks through without so much as a glance in your direction, let alone any appreciation or gratitude. How should you respond? We suggest you should proceed as if nothing has happened. Move on quietly and gracefully. You are the only person affected by this rudeness, and it is not worth worrying about as there are plenty more people out there who will say thank you. Most certainly refrain from saying ‘thank you’ loudly and sarcastically, then slamming the door behind her.
You are on a train and there is a young man playing music loudly from his phone/iPod and upsetting a lady and her baby sitting next to him. When asked to turn the music down he refuses. Should you intervene? Creating confrontation is the last resort of a gentleman, better to diffuse the situation in some way. If your seat is further from the loud music, offer to swap places with the lady. It is a noble gesture, you may embarrass the young man into turning down the music and although you may have to put up with the unpleasant music, it will only last for the duration of one journey.
Someone is talking loudly on their phone in the designated quiet zone of a train, they are not only being impolite and disturbing the other passengers, but are breaking a rule of conduct. we suggest that you remind them of the quiet zone rules and point out the signs. Then they can move to another carriage if they wish to continue their ever so important telephone conversation. This is also a situation where you may consider getting the train manager or another third party with authority, to intervene rather than taking the situation ‘head on’.
There is also the environment to take into consideration. The general behaviour and atmosphere of a pub is likely to be very different from that of a private members club, and the two should be treated differently. At a football match there is frequently a lot of ungentlemanly behaviour, both in the crowd and on the pitch. If you wish to enter this environment, you should be prepared for the potential of bad behaviour and accept that it is part and parcel of attending a football match and for the most part should be ignored.
Generally, dealing with ungentlemanly behaviour is about being ‘The Perfect Gentleman’ yourself. Assessing who is being unpleasant, who is affected and what is the best course of action for yourself and those affected. Polite and gentle persuasion is often the most efficient response. Resorting to fisticuffs is always, for the gentleman, the very last resort.
However, if you find yourself in a genuinely hostile situation with a threat to yourself and others, we strongly encourage you discover more about the noble art of Bartitsu – as used by Sherlock Holmes, but make sure you consult a professional and know ‘how to handle yourself’ before you get involved in a situation that could get out of hand.