Friday, June 13

Simple Ways to be Classy

Mr. Q paid me a great complement the other day without realizing how much it meant to me. I came home from work, wearing my big sunglasses and an a-line dress, and the first thing out of his mouth was, "You look like Jackie Kennedy."  I don't think he realized that Jacqueline is one of my idols - yes, her style was awesome, but there's a lot more to it than that.  She exuded class and ladylike behavior.  That got me thinking - what, exactly, does it mean to be a classy lady in the modern age?  I came up with five sure fire ways to maintain class in your personal and work life.

1. Admit mistakes, apologize, and make it right.

Being able to admit when you are wrong - to your husband, your friends, your coworkers, and even your superiors, can be difficult.  Admitting mistakes isn't a sign of weakness - it's a sign of wisdom and responsibility.  Being able to acknowledge that you were in the wrong about something shows the people in your life that you think about the consequences of your actions and that you care about how your deeds affect - and hurt - others.  And it's not enough to just admit that you messed up - it's also important to let those you've wronged know that you are sorry, and that you are taking steps to make things right.

2. Be kind and polite - even when people aren't being kind to you.

One of the biggest things I've learned at work and in my personal life this year is not to take things too personally.  If the father of one of my students sounds irritated on the phone, for instance, it doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't like me - it could be that he is annoyed that his son has been acting up in class for five or six years, that he and his wife are having problems at home, or that his boss is scowling at him for being on the phone during work. Me getting defensive and letting an attitude come through in my voice isn't going to make any of those situations better.  Likewise, I recently spent time agonizing over why Mr. Q was upset with me - I was positive he was because he'd been quiet and tense all morning - only to find out that he had a sinus infection and was just trying to get through a busy day when what he really wanted was to go back to bed.  Bottom line: get over yourself, think about whether there might be something else going on, and be as kind as you can.  It will be remembered.

3. Be a good guest.

This spring, when my friend Becky came to visit and do the Color Run with me, I was really struck by what a good guest she was.  I've stayed at her home many times and knew what a good hostess she is, so I shouldn't have been surprised.  She called on her way to let me know exactly when she would arrive.  After our race, she bought me lunch - which was not necessary, but absolutely classy!  When she left, the guest room somehow looked even cleaner than it had before she slept in it.

4. Dress for the occasion.

I heard a quotation about this from a very unexpected source: Nicki Minaj!  She appeared on Live! with Kelly and Michael recently, and when Kelly complimented her ladylike dress, she said, "I always dress to match the woman of the house."  Wearing appropriate clothing for certain places and occasions is a sign of courtesy and good manners.  If Nicki Minaj can do it, so can you.  That means respecting traditions like not wearing red or white to a wedding, wearing dark colors to funerals, and dressing professionally for job interviews.  Over time, I've also come to see dressing modestly as a way to show respect to those around me, particularly children and the elderly.

5. Send get well, sympathy, and thank you cards.

In the age of Facebook, it's easy to send a brief message to someone who is ill, grieving, or who has done something kind for you, but I don't think a digital message will ever replace a heartfelt note, in your own handwriting, on actual paper.  A lot of people might think it's old-fashioned, but knowing that someone took the time to write a card always means a lot to me. I've started keeping a box of basic thank you cards in my desk at work so I can quickly acknowledge when someone does something special for me.

What actions and behaviors do you consider classy?  Who is the classiest person you know, and what makes him or her stand out?

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