10 signs of genuine class that can’t be faked, according to psychology

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Genuinely classy people make all our lives better, and they make society a more enjoyable and refined place. 

We all benefit from living, working and playing around people who act with sophistication, style and respect.

While some forms of classiness can be faked by appearance, money and piggybacking off popular trends, there are various deeper signs of authentic class that can’t be faked. Psychology gives us valuable insights into these unfakeable signs of true classiness. 

Let’s take a look: 

1) Staying true to themselves 

There’s no shortcut to being genuine. It can take bravery and courage in the face of group judgment. 

It can mean standing out, speaking your truth and being honest about who you are and what you stand for. 

It’s very hard to fake, especially when somebody would gain more by pretending to believe or be something but they refuse and stay true to themselves regardless. Now that’s classy. 

“Authenticity is living with radical honesty, acknowledging first to yourself and then to others who you are,” writes licensed psychologist Lori L. Cangilla, Ph.D.

“It is a call to bring forth your uniqueness and unapologetically live in a way that reflects your true colors.”

2) Grace and calm under pressure

Truly classy people stay calm under pressure

For example, if work is overwhelming, they don’t take it out on other people or come home and shout at their boyfriend… 

If they are having a hard time in their relationship or just broken up, they don’t overdrink the night before and then come into work hungover or being belligerent with their coworkers. 

Truly classy people do their best to handle things within the context that they happen rather than venting and lashing out in other contexts. 

They are solid and reliable under pressure or in stressful situations and gain the trust and respect of others for their cool heads. 

3) Treating other people with respect

Politeness can be learned and, to some extent, faked. 

But true respectfulness for others is a quality that shines through and points to genuine classiness. 

This doesn’t mean that a classy individual is “upper class” economically, nor that they wear a fancy watch. 

It means that they respond to others with real respect and dignity even when nobody’s looking.

As Dhruv Jalodra writes:

“One misconception to dispel is the idea that having class equates to financial prosperity or flaunting opulent possessions. 

Class is not about showing off one’s financial success but about fostering genuine human connections and treating others with dignity.”

4) Generosity with time and affection

The truly classy individual doesn’t “ration” their time and attention based on status. 

They are just as considerate and generous with people from all walks of life and they consider humanity as a whole to be worthy of their engagement, not just the “upper crust” or somebody who’s a VIP. 

While ensuring their own needs are met and their own schedule doable, the genuinely classy person still takes the energy to be a considerate and elegant individual to ordinary people who cross his or her path. 

As psychology writer Tonya Leigh puts it

“When you are kind and respectful to the wait staff at a restaurant, you are elegant.” 

5) Respect regardless of agreement

The genuinely classy individual doesn’t take disagreement personally, nor do they pick favorites based on agreement. 

They respect others regardless of whether they agree with them or feel they are making good choices in life. 

While they may intervene to strongly advise against a certain choice, belief or path, they do not ever weaponize their affection or approval of somebody due to disliking their beliefs or choices. 

“You might even have difficulty loving someone in the same way when they make a choice you don’t agree with,” notes psychologist Atara Wertentheil.

“When you find you can’t accept a loved one’s choice, focus on respecting it instead. Distinguishing between acceptance and respect helps us to preserve our relationships, even when we disagree.”

This ties directly into the next point:

6) Open-mindedness about different POVs

Truly classy individuals are able to remain open about different points of view (POVs) even when it’s alien to their own experience. 

They may have not grown up in 1970s Paris during the student riots or rural Afghanistan in the 1980s, but they can listen to somebody who did and picture the scenes and experiences and how that shaped their views. 

They are able to listen beyond their own narrow view and truly stand in somebody else’s shoes, listening to experiences that transcend their own particular experience. 

This makes the classy individual very skilled at connecting with others and also tends to make them creatively, artistically and literarily skilled at inhabiting and presenting the inner and outer worlds of other people. 

7) Humility and willingness to learn

Classy people know what they don’t know and are willing to learn

This is an attractive quality that endears them to others and leads to people also listening more when they speak. 

Because the classy individual gives others the time of day when they speak, others tend to do the same for him or her. 

The willingness to hear other perspectives, experiences and information that he or she may not know is a definite hallmark of the classy individual.

8) Integrity and honesty even when nobody’s looking

It’s easy to do the right thing when everybody agrees and there’s praise and recognition. 

But truly classy individuals are honest and full of integrity even when nobody notices. 

They help people out without seeking a reward or any recognition, and they are honest to a fault, including in saying what they really think to the people around them. 

As clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. puts it

“Being honest isn’t about being hurtful, overly critical, or righteous. It’s possible to be sensitive to another person’s feelings while being truthful about our own.”

This also relates directly to the next point… 

9) Tactfulness in telling hard truths

The classy individual is able to tell difficult truths in a tactful way. 

There are many situations where this can be difficult, for example if a friend is struggling with addiction and there’s a lot of tension around the subject, folks may be unsure how to bring it up. 

The sincere and classy individual broaches the subject in a way that’s not hurtful or unnecessarily confrontational, but that still gets across the core message that this person needs help. 

“Choosing to tell tactful truths allows us both to stay honest and to show that we care about another person’s feelings,” observes psychology writer Shawn Chang.

10) A desire to be better and keep growing in life

Genuinely classy people keep improving and trying to grow in life. 

They don’t seek out plateaus and then become static, nor do they rest on their laurels. 

Just because you win an Oscar doesn’t mean you can’t make another movie!

They are always optimistic in the face of setbacks and defeat, too, recognizing that life is full of ups and downs and that it’s nothing personal. 

“Maybe to be less than optimistic is to admit defeat. We seem predisposed not to give in,” explains research psychologist Peggy Drexler, Ph.D.

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