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The perfect gentleman must be the epitome of mannerly behaviour. But what are manners, how do you display them, and why should you bother?

There are obviously a few basics, but the type of behaviour that a gentleman would be expected to display during a rugby match would be different from expectations of a white tie dinner, so it would be foolish to suggest that one way of acting is going to fit every scenario. So how do we know which set of manners is best?

Its actually easier than you might suppose. The aim of manners in any given situation is to make those around you feel comfortable, to set them at their ease, be courteous and considerate of them and their thoughts, feelings, and views.

The handshake was originally the presentation of the sword arm (hence the right hand) to prove that no weapon was being wielded. Interestingly, this is the same reason that in China, Japan (and Korea) a business card is presented with both hands (the prevalence of martial arts meaning either hand could be equally efficient with a blade).

There is no social restriction when it comes to shaking hands between genders, but there are some cultures where physical contact between genders is discouraged. Any slight discomfort can easily be avoided by noting a slight pause in the return of a hand being offered, and turning the gesture into an offer to carry the lady’s bag, or an open handed guiding gesture (e.g. to offer the lady a seat, or to indicate a direction).

The handshake itself should be firm, but not firm enough to cause pain. A hand offered with the palm slightly skyward denotes a slight social inferiority, and a hand offered with the back of the hand skyward denotes slight social dominance, as does using the left hand to either grip the wrist, upper arm or shoulder of the other person.

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