Class acts never fail to impress wherever they go.
There is something in the way they carry themselves that screams dignity, decorum, and decency.
But what makes a true class act stand out from the crowd?
Let’s take a look at how to be a class act — no matter what the situation.
1. Be honest, but keep it tactful
A real class act knows how to carefully tread the fine line between honesty and tactlessness.
Being truthful is really important. But how you phrase something is too.
Here’s the thing:
That old saying about ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ isn’t really true.
In fact, loaded words can be incredibly painful.
We live in communities and it’s important to our relationships that we learn how to communicate in effective ways.
So yes, be truthful — but don’t be brutal.
Maybe your mom told you that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.
A class act knows that there is some truth in this.
Some things do need to be voiced, but other things really don’t.
Considering how your words will land and asking yourself whether something needs to be said can help us all to be a class act in any situation.
2. Take responsibility for yourself rather than blaming others
One of the classiest things I think someone can do is hold their hands up when they make a mistake.
Rather than a sign of weakness, being able to apologize and hold yourself accountable shows incredible strength of character.
You show people that you have good morals and that your ego isn’t so fragile that it cannot handle being wrong.
Because let’s face it, who amongst us doesn’t make errors?
It’s just a part of life.
But rather than getting defensive or seeking to shift blame, a class act will take the blame on the chin and move on.
3. Keep your emotions in check
I want to start out by making something really clear:
This isn’t about stifling your emotions.
I think it’s really important that we allow ourselves to feel what we feel.
Anger, sadness, jealousy — and a whole range of unpleasant feelings are natural and normal.
But not only is there a time and a place, there is also a way to express how we feel.
A class act isn’t prone to emotional outbursts or flying off the handle.
They have the self-awareness to recognize their own feelings. And with that, they manage to keep them in check, even during difficult situations.
Of course, in the heat of the moment, this can be easier said than done.
Personally, I don’t tend to raise my voice or get particularly angry.
But what I certainly do notice is that I can snap at someone when my patience is wearing thin.
Or I fall into the bad habit of passive aggression.
Regardless of whether you are the shouting type or the sulking type — of course, there’s always a better way.
So what can we do to keep emotions in check?
1) Don’t try to fight the emotion, but question yourself:
What am I feeling right now? What do I want to do about it? Is there a better way of coping with this?
Research has shown that just naming your emotions immediately releases their hold on you and reduces physiological distress.
2) Take some big breaths
Breathwork can be really de-stressing. Studies show how effective it is at calming your nervous system.
That’s why when you’re losing your cool, taking a few deep breaths can help to ground you.
3) Create a “mood journal”
This can help with greater self-awareness of your emotions, your triggers, and your thoughts.
Experts say journalling is a great tool to help you accept your feelings rather than judge them, which in return results in fewer negative emotions.
4. Don’t lower yourself to other people’s level
Once you practice self-regulating and understanding your own emotions, this next part should feel easier.
Because let’s face it, it can be pretty challenging to take the moral high ground.
Especially when we feel we’re faced with unreasonable, rude, or inappropriate behavior from others.
For sure, at times it’ll require some real restraint.
But class acts stay true to themselves and refuse to lower themselves to someone else’s level.
They realize that how others behave is a reflection of them and has nothing to do with you.
That helps them create space around other people’s behavior rather than take it personally.
And this in turn gives them that dignity that is so admirable.
Instead of rising to it, they focus their energy on reminding themselves of the person they want to be.
5. Take time to listen to other people’s views and opinions
I don’t know about you, but several times in my life I’ve been able to tell when someone is paying no attention to what I’m saying.
There are those telltale signs.
For example, they may nod, but their eyes are glancing around the room. They seem distant, and you can tell their mind is elsewhere.
The truth is that we all like to feel heard and seen.
The people who listen to us allow for that.
Often in a challenging situation, simply respectfully hearing someone out is enough to diffuse much of the tension.
We may not agree with one another all the time. But we can show each other the courtesy of listening.
This also helps us to understand where someone else is coming from.
It is a sign of respect—and so the sign of a real class act— when you hear someone else out rather than being dismissive.
6. Show your integrity
Sadly, it can be far easier to look the other way rather than stay true to what is right.
But to be a class act, you have to be prepared to live by a moral code of conduct.
That can mean putting yourself out for the sake of your integrity.
We’re talking about:
- Speaking up when you see wrongdoings
- Being prepared to say ‘no’ when you feel something isn’t right
- Sticking up for others, even when it isn’t in your own best interest
Deep down we all have a sense of what is right and wrong.
Sometimes in life doing the “right” thing can be pretty darn inconvenient.
But class acts have principles that are important to them.
That’s why they’re not prepared to put ethics aside for personal gain.
They resist social pressure and stay true to themselves.
7. Give compliments and kindness freely
Hands down one of the classiest things anyone can do is simply to be kind.
Warm words mean a lot, especially as you never know if someone is having a hard time.
I like to try to make an extra effort to give sincere compliments, even to strangers.
Showing your appreciation for others benefits both you and them.
For example, research has proven that expressing gratitude helps us form stronger relationships with others.
In fact, couples who express their appreciation toward each other not only have better marriages but are also less likely to get divorced.
And it makes sense right?
The nicer we are to each other, clearly the better everyone gets along.
Class acts put kindness at the forefront of their intentions in every situation.
That means trying to extend compassion, understanding, and empathy to everyone they meet — no matter who they are.
8. Do good deeds without expecting anything in return
Here’s a question for you:
Is it really giving if you expect something in return?
Technically, I don’t think it is.
Because it turns a gesture into a transaction.
The trouble is that often a gift, a good deed, or a favor comes along with a social expectation of being repaid.
But a real class act expects nothing in return.
They give their time, their money, and their resources solely for the sake of sharing and out of kindness.
In doing so they free themselves from the disappointment of unmet expectations from others.
They are far less likely to feel “let down” when doing a good deed goes “unrewarded”— because they weren’t waiting for that to happen.
The act of giving itself brings them reward enough.
9. Strive to build others up rather than tear them down
As we’ve just alluded to above, a class act isn’t just concerned with themselves.
They want those around them to thrive and succeed.
That’s why they tend not to get tied down by pettiness, meanness, jealousy, and other ego trappings.
They aren’t threatened by others’ success, because they believe that higher standards benefit us all.
Class act’s use encouraging and enthusiastic language.
They celebrate other people and take an inclusive approach.
This goes back again to showing compassion and kindness to everyone.
At the end of the day, we’re all human beings who are in this together. And a class act wants to make the world a better place for us all.