Men In High Places And How They Dress

January 21st, 2005

Men in high-status positions are expected to execute certain tasks and behaviors in a superior manner. Just like James Bond who readily knows how to do everything and nothing, you need useful skills in order to become a suave "Jack of all trades." Use the following list in order to acquire the skills necessary to embody the essence of a successful man.

1- Dining etiquette

During influential functions and fancy dinners with clients, it´s important to know your way around the table. When eating a meal with many courses and a plethora of forks, knives, little spoons, and napkins, remember this simple rule: You typically use the utensils from the outside in. The set of utensils furthest from your plate is used for the first course and so on.
Put your napkin on your lap before you start your meal, and do not commence eating until all the guests have been seated and their meals have been served. Gentlemanly etiquette separates the composed from the crass.

2- Ordering alcohol

For elaborate meals with five courses or more, it´s wise to know when to order which drinks. Cocktails, like martinis and Scotch on the rocks, are generally served with hors d´oeuvres before the meal and typically away from the table setting. Before the meal, sometimes it is customary to order an "aperitif" like port or a sweet wine.

In terms of what wine to order with dinner, remember that red wine typically goes with cheeses, red meat and creamy dishes, whereas white goes with fish, chicken, and fondue. After the meal, you can also order a "digestif" like cognac or a sweet liqueur like Anisette or Baileys. Likewise, tipping well increases your sophistication.

3- Smoking a cigar

There´s nothing like a sweet Cuban between the lips of a head honcho. Classier and more celebratory than a cigarette, a real cigar -- rather than one of those cheap, crispy imitations from the convenience store -- can be a measure of true class.

First, go to a specialty store to select a decent cigar. Expect to spend at least $10 for a quality cigar. You will likely have to "clip" the end of the cigar (where you will be putting your mouth), so it is wise to obtain a cigar clipper.

To light it, turn the cigar slowly with one hand, so that the entire end is evenly exposed to the heat of the flame. When it glows evenly, consider it lit. Take a long puff of your cigar, and let the smoke gather in your mouth rather than inhaling into your lungs. It´s about the taste, not the tobacco.

Remember not to re-light a cigar after it has been out for more than thirty minutes because the taste will alter unfavorably. Generally, cigars are allowed in special smoking lounges, and it is prudent in restaurants to ask if they have a "no cigar policy." The same goes for dinner parties because some people find the odor offensive.

Speaking with confidence, managing time and shaking up a storm...

4- Speaking well in public

Being able to persuade, influence, flatter, motivate, and inspire is essential in the life of every successful man. In any situation, being a master of social seduction takes one main attribute: Confidence. When you speak in front of a crowd, you must first be relaxed with yourself and your abilities.

Whenever possible, plan your speeches ahead of time, and read up as much as possible about any topic you wish to discuss. You need to be comfortable in order to be confident and compelling, in any situation.

Never read off of cue cards; use them as guides to direct your speech, not direct it verbatim. Be as concise and clear as possible and limit the length of your speech as much as possible. Remember those long lectures you had to suffer through in college?

Likewise, try to involve your audience at least once during your speech so you keep them proactive in their listening, like by asking rhetorical questions, telling a joke you know is funny, or conducting a question and answer period after you speak.

5- Managing your time

What´s more important to you: Planting a tomato garden or playing with your son? Learn to prioritize.

Extraneous activities should always be the lowest on your list of things to do. Also, to manage your time effectively, book time for meetings, project work, but also for play; you don´t want to become a workaholic.

Schedule reasonable lengths of time for activities, and if anything, allow more time than you think you require. Bring your agenda or PDA with you everywhere.

6- Firming your handshake

First, verify that your hand is adequately warm and not sweaty. Going to the bathroom before predicted handshakes and washing your hands in warm water is a good way to keep the shake clean and comfortable.

To properly shake hands, extend your right hand after exchanging verbal greetings. Say, while looking in the other person´s eyes, "Hi, my name is (fill in name), nice to meet you." Firmly grasp their hand, making sure not to not crush or squeeze their digits together or hold the hand limp and noodle-like. Remember to keep a faint and professional smile. Do not overdo or overly curb your enthusiasm.

7- Making a toast

All great men know how to start off a party with a lively toast. To make a positive impression when you toast, you should know what you are going to say about whom and why, and practice ahead of time. For example, plan a few jokes and embarrassing anecdotes to toast to your best bud´s tragic loss of bachelorhood.

Before commencing, check that all parties have a filled glass in front of them. Stand and face the person whom you are toasting or the crowd if you are making a general statement like, "To life, love and the pursuit of infinite fortune." Then, raise your glass up to nose level, with your arm gently extended in front of you. Speak your toast enthusiastically and make eye contact with the crowd or intended recipient. Wave your glass to all, and tip or clink with people who are close enough. Take a hearty sip and sit back down.

Exiting bad situations with class and maintaining that mystique that everyone loves so much...

8- Getting out of difficult situations

Sticky situations rarely get the best of a professional man. An angry employee or a trying ex-wife can put a wrinkle in anyone´s plans. However, having an easy way out of difficult situations is the best way to master them in advance.

Keep your wits under pressure. If someone upsets you, do not resort to verbal abuse, and certainly not physical assault. Calmly state your position and views without succumbing to or employing manipulative pressure tactics.

Likewise, refuse to speak with an irate, belligerent, or out of control person. Simply stop talking, excuse yourself and walk out of the room, or redirect the person´s attention to another issue. For instance, tell a joke to alleviate the tension of the situation and address another less controversial issue.

9- Being mysterious

There is always an allure to a man who maintains a certain je ne sais quoi. When people know just enough about you, but not too much, they want to continually be in your presence to seek out the truth about you. Keep your personal life and intimate details about yourself under wraps.

If you keep your boundaries solid, everyone will always want to know more about you, but always maintain a professional distance. Avoid revealing too much about your personal life at work, do not keep your schedule too open, and try to schedule events, dates and meetings several days in advance. Also, if you employ a secretary, have her screen your calls. An encyclopedia is seldom as well read as a thriller that keeps people guessing.

10- Making good impressions

Valuable connections in love, business, and influential social circles usually begin with a positive introduction. People will remember you and your name if you make an effort to present yourself properly. Stating your first name and making eye contact, as well as politely asking the party´s name and repeating it back to them as often as possible, will put you in the good graces of many individuals.

Listening and mirroring the other person´s movements will subconsciously make them like you more. If they stand to the side, do the same. Don´t make it blatantly obvious, but try to move in synch with the person you need to connect with. Also, speak at the same speed, volume and in a similar vocabulary as they do. Non-verbal communication goes a long way in successfully relating to others.

11- Being stylish

As a poised business professional, you need to develop your own fashion hallmark. You don´t have to be a fashion hound, but try to create your own stellar style. Little personal accessories, like a tie clip or monogrammed cufflinks, go a long way in conveying a classy image. Make an effort to watch the fashion channel and skim through fashion magazines, and pick out what you wish to emulate.

Would Bond be caught fighting international criminals in a jogging suit? A composed man dresses for the occasion and blends in with the situation. For instance, always try to wear a contemporary, tailored suit whenever you are in public during business hours. Also, shop for basic separates at large department stores, making sure they are well-fitted, and buy bold, snappy ties to accent a basic suit.

From the Culture Cafe by G. Bruce Boyer


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