Being worldly has nothing to do with whether you take jet-set vacations to far-flung destinations.
You don’t even need to travel to be worldly.
Nor does being sophisticated come from money and materialism. It’s a deep seated class and elegance that shines from the inside out.
You are worldly and sophisticated because of your character, and the actions you take.
Here are some all important behaviors that highlight worldliness…
1) Truly listening to what someone else has to say
Most of us like to think we’re good listeners, but as research shows, the truth is we’re not.
I hold my hands up and admit that it’s something I’m still working on.
All too often we jump in and share our own thoughts on a topic.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this. It’s good to exchange ideas and information. Opening up is also how we create connections and get to know one another.
But if you want to show respect and interest in others, be the one who listens first and speaks later.
Active listening is much harder than we may imagine, but it’s certainly a skill worth learning.
It involves putting your mind’s chatter aside and really engaging in what the other person has to say.
It’s no wonder that people who are great listeners are more likable. It takes strong communication skills and self-discipline to be a good listener.
It also helps if you have a genuine desire to get to grips with a particular topic or person, as we’ll see next.
2) Showing curiosity about the world around you
Worldy people are not born that way, they are created.
They go out into the world and educate themselves. They seek knowledge and experiences all around them.
Yet this often comes from a drive inside to do so that is spurred on by genuine curiosity.
Some of the very best ways to display our curiosity in our behavior are:
- Asking lots of questions
- Reading books
- Taking courses to deepen our understanding
- Never stop learning, no matter how old we get
Generally seeking out more information and actively learning is how we come across as more worldly.
But that certainly doesn’t need to be in a pushy or impertinent way. In order to maintain a classy image, good social skills are vital.
3) Presenting yourself with impeccable manners
My mom always used to say that good manners reflect good breeding.
Whilst her wording is a little outdated for my tastes, I know what she means.
There’s no point in pretending that it doesn’t matter how we come across to others.
We live together in societies that rely on cooperation. How others interpret our behavior and intentions makes a big difference to whether we fit in and ultimately succeed.
The good news is, as the saying goes, manners cost nothing.
Neither is it tricky to do. It’s a matter of:
- Remembering your please’s and thank you’s to show appreciation
- Not crossing people’s boundaries (that includes physical space too)
- Not asking rude or over personal questions
- Not interrupting people when they’re speaking
- Keeping cuss words to a minimum
- Being considerate towards other people and not only thinking of yourself
4) Refining your taste
I hesitated to include this on the list, and here’s why:
There can be snobbery around the idea of sophistication. Too many people define it based on what you have rather than who you are.
And I think that’s a mistake.
To a certain extent, you like what you like and that’s okay. I’m not keen on creating a hierarchy of taste.
But having sophisticated taste is usually associated with discernment. And the truth is that discernment is a sign of worldliness.
It’s brought about by a willingness to experiment and experience things. As you do so, you encounter not only new things but also new depths.
You start to see and appreciate those depths on another level.
That’s why sophisticated people often have a passion for the arts, music, literature, philosophy, fashion, or food.
5) Keeping an open mind
It’s hard not to let our preconceived ideas get in the way.
But worldly people often have enough experience, knowledge and awareness to not fall into this trap.
They show it by being open to trying out something new.
Rather than being quick to decide you won’t like it, you’re prepared to give it a go first — whether it’s a new place, new activity, or even a new food.
But as well as staying open to new experiences, it is also seen through a willingness to not judge others too.
Giving people and things the benefit of the doubt instead of making hasty conclusions is a strong sign of wisdom.
Being able to stay open-minded is going to help you with the next behavior on our list.
6) Displaying tolerance towards people’s differences
The less we judge, the less we take things personally too.
A lot of people can’t cope with someone disagreeing with them or being very different to them, because it feels like a threat.
It’s often made worse when they’ve spent their entire life mixing only with people who are exactly like them.
It can create a sense of “otherness” towards people who aren’t the same as them.
Worldly people make a point of coming into contact with diverse groups of people. They seek to educate themselves on different points of views and ways of living.
This helps them to show acceptance and understanding, rather than hostility to people’s differences.
7) Keeping your cool, even when things get heated
Often it’s how you carry yourself in the most difficult situations that tell people the most about you.
Patience, self-control, and self-awareness are clear signs of sophistication.
We can all get swept away by the intensity of strong emotion. That’s why being able to master your emotions is a real sign of maturity.
- Understand themselves and get to know their triggers
- Watch their emotions so they’re not swept away by them
- Take a deep breath to steady themselves when tension rises
- Detach themselves from taking things too personally
- Know when to walk away rather than escalate a situation
Let’s face it, in any argument, the person who keeps calm and collected is the one the world views as classy, not the person screaming and making a scene.
8) Knowing how to talk to people from all walks of life
I think a lot of us secretly loathe having to make polite conversation, especially with people who we feel like we’ve got nothing in common with.
Sometimes I suck at small talk. But it’s a real skill as it helps us to connect and form deeper bonds with people.
It takes plenty of confidence to be open and make conversation. The more you go out into the world and practice this, the easier it becomes.
That’s why it’s a behavior worldly people take in their stride.
They aren’t so self-conscious about what to say.
They focus on finding the things that we have in common with other people, rather than dwelling on any apparent differences.
9) Thinking before you speak
Of course, not being overly self-conscious about what to say does not mean being mindless about what you say.
That same awareness that we spoke of earlier that worldly people tend to cultivate stops them from slipping up in certain ways.
Mainly, putting their foot in their mouths.
Often, it’s not even our ignorance that leads to the most slip-ups. It’s simply that we engage our mouths before we’ve engaged our brains.
This leads to those awkward feelings of:
“Oops, I wish I hadn’t said that” or “That’s not how I meant that to come out.”
Thinking before you speak involves balancing plenty of more complex considerations.
- Being culturally sensitive and aware
- Considering the feelings of the other person
- Asking whether it needs to be said in the first place
Whilst it’s true that worldly people are good at clear and confident communication, that doesn’t mean they blurt things out.
In short, worldly people behave with diplomacy.
10) Apologizing when you’re wrong
One of the classiest things you can do is accept responsibility for yourself.
A very clear way of doing this is by saying sorry when you’ve made a mistake.
Crude people tend to become defensive and refuse to back down. Meanwhile, sophisticated people have no problem admitting fault.
It all comes back to maturity.
As you move through life and learn to hold yourself accountable, you don’t find it such a threat to hold your hands up to errors.
Your ego isn’t wrapped up in being right at all costs.
For the same reason, another worldly behavior is being able to accept correction graciously.
The most sophisticated and worldly people stay humble, rather than let their wisdom give them any delusions of grandeur.