When you hear the word “sophisticated”, you might automatically think “cultured”, “classy”…or even “rich.”
But that’s not what sophistication is like—not really.
In fact, I know many regular folks who are sophisticated and plenty of rich folks who are the complete opposite.
If you want to be sophisticated, you must first know the things you should NEVER do.
And in this article, I will enumerate each one for you.
1. Sophisticated people never put down others
With how closely we associate sophistication with wealth and high status, you might think sophisticated people are all snobs.
But the reality is quite different.
They have known plenty of people from all walks of life—whether in real life or through books and movies—so they’re very aware that each person has something to offer.
They know that we’re all the same in the grand scheme of things, and that they’re definitely not better than others.
And when they see that someone is struggling, instead of putting them down, they instead try to lift them up.
2. Sophisticated people never follow trends
You might see someone walking down the street toting a Louis Vuitton bag and assume that they must be sophisticated.
And I won’t blame you for it. Luxury brands try to tell us that sophistication can be bought. And that’s just BS.
See, sophistication is a way of life, a way of thinking. And that way of thinking is to never blindly follow the herd.
A sophisticated person knows that trends and conformity are society trying to make us all fit into neat little boxes.
But of course, they don’t act like contrarians just for the sake of it either. Instead, they use their heads and do as their heart desires.
3. Sophisticated people never crave approval
To be sophisticated is to have high self-esteem—that is to say, they know their worth and because of this, they don’t need praise.
So if they show you their latest work, they’re not doing it to fish for compliments.
They just want to share their creation with you.
They might even ask for critique, in which case they would appreciate honesty and get turned off the moment they feel that you’re just trying to boost their ego.
They have a healthy sense of self and for them, it’s silly that you think they’re even trying to impress you. It’s the last thing they’d ever do.
4. Sophisticated people are never rude to “regular” folks
They don’t glare at waiters for serving them the wrong dish or being late with their orders.
Neither do they snap at beggars who accidentally touch them.
In fact, they don’t even concern themselves with distinctions like whether someone’s an “ordinary” person, or if they’re a “sophisticated person”—as far as they’re concerned, we’re all people.
They are socially aware of the inequalities of life and they go by the saying that “If you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
There is nothing, after all, that separates them from “regular folks” outside of the thoughts in their head and the way they approach the world.
5. Sophisticated people never succumb to peer pressure
Rarely do you see a sophisticated person do something they don’t want to do just to impress other people, or because they want to belong.
As far as they’re concerned, this pressure to conform and belong is something that should stay in high school.
So what happens is that they’ll just ignore people who try to pressure them and walk away when people insist.
The few times they might go with what other people asked of them is when they have decided for themselves that it’s not that big of a deal.
When they say no, they mean it… and they extend this same respect to others.
6. Sophisticated people never indulge in gossip
Talking about other people behind their back—especially when it involves another person’s misfortunes and secrets—isn’t something sophisticated people enjoy doing.
They respect others too much for that, and are all too aware of how facts can get easily distorted as people keep passing them on.
Try to share with them a juicy secret you have about a colleague and they might smile or nod at you, but they will try to change the topic or excuse themselves afterwards.
Gossiping can be addicting. It can destroy relationships. And most of all, it’s just not worth their time. They know this, and for that reason avoid engaging with it whenever possible.
7. Sophisticated people never stop learning
Something that they would do in lieu of gossiping is, instead, learning.
And I don’t mean that they have their noses stuck in books all the time, but that they keep an open mind and never stop thinking and asking questions.
They would check out new kinds of music, read books, attend events, and even just listen to what other people have to say.
There’s only so much time in this world, and they would rather invest that time into improving themselves than talking about pointless drivel like rumors and hearsay.
Another thing we associate with sophisticated people is knowledge. They just seem to know a lot, somehow… and this is precisely the reason why.
8. Sophisticated people never want to do all the talking
Simple, self-centered people keep talking their heads off even when everyone else is clearly bored.
As you might guess, this is the opposite of what sophisticated people do.
You see, being sophisticated means being a good communicator, so they put extra attention into reading the atmosphere and understanding non-verbal cues so that they know when it’s their turn to speak… and when it’s not.
And, well, sophisticated people are simply interested in more than just themselves so they give people the time and space to express themselves because this helps them better understand others.
You can’t really learn more about others if you keep talking over them, can’t you?
9. Sophisticated people never lash out
Aside from their hunger for knowledge and deep understanding of life, sophisticated people are known for being able to handle their emotions well.
They don’t shout cuss words just because they’re angry.
Sure, they do get angry but they pay attention to HOW they express their anger.
Things are bad enough, so they take great care not to make things even worse. Instantaneous emotional relief might be great in the heat of things, but they would rather think ahead.
People might mistake this for them being doormats, especially if all they’re used to is being aggressively walled off when people are mad at them.
But make no mistake—sophisticated people are as far as one can be from being a doormat.
10. Sophisticated people never stay in meaningless interactions
Although sophisticated people are very patient in general, they’re not necessarily going to extend that patience if they know you’re just wasting their time.
They won’t stick around if they could feel that the conversation is devolving into nonsense.
They will stop dating someone who’s clearly not into them, or is playing mind games with them.
As mentioned before, sophisticated people value themselves and their time. To them, it’s the most precious thing they have and they’d rather spend it on things that truly matter.
In this world where advertisers want us to think and act the same way, where it’s very easy to get lost in chatter and time-wasting activities like gossip and arguments, we all could use a bit of sophistication.
It’s not in the way you dress, or how well-versed you are in arts and philosophy. Neither is it your house or the people you hang out with.
It’s the way of thinking and living one’s life—one that’s rooted in growth and kindness.
It takes a lot of effort if you want to be a sophisticated person. The ten things listed in this article aren’t always easy to internalize. But we have a lifetime to learn and practice them.
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