It may be hard to define classy behavior, but I’m sure you know it when you see it.
Class is not something you have or you don’t. It can be learned, grown and cultivated.
One of the most important components of class is compassion, which we can define as recognition of and concern for the suffering and misfortunes of others.
Compassion is also one of the cornerstones of most religions and spiritual movements around the world. For example, Buddhism teaches adherents to “have compassion for all beings, rich and poor; everyone has his suffering.”
But this doesn’t mean that compassion is as widespread around the world as you might hope. So many people are quick to judge and condemn others for their actions, without considering the root causes of their behavior.
If you don’t care for other people, you come across as a cold, heartless person.
There’s nothing classy about that!
People who exhibit these six behaviors lack class and compassion without realizing it and could certainly learn to care more about others.
1) Bragging rights
Showing off and showing off are two behaviors that I think we can all agree are seriously lacking in class.
Yet people who have a lot and are well off seem to do this all the time. This means that class has little to do with wealth and material success and everything to do with how you sustain yourself.
An authentic person is proud of himself and does not have to hide his successes. But they don’t need to rub them in anyone else’s faces either, especially people who have been far less successful in life than themselves.
I used to work as a volunteer teacher at a very poor rural school in rural Thailand. One day the entire school was called to the gym for an assembly.
The school had brought in a motivational speaker to talk to the entire student body. I attended the hour-long conversation even though I didn’t understand much of what the man said.
He started with a few jokes and got the students laughing and participating. But eventually the mood changed.
I asked my co-teacher what he said, and she told me he was talking all about his success. He told them how he had built a multi-million dollar business and now had a yacht, a fleet of sports cars, a few mansions – you know, the usual!
These were usually children who only had one pair of socks.
I noticed that the students leaving the meeting looked anything but motivated and asked some what they thought.
“Rich man, let’s see” was the answer I got from almost everyone.
Perhaps the speaker thought he would motivate the children with his story from the middle class to the rich, but he had no compassion for their economic situation and fell far short.
2) Being rough
Have you ever seen someone yell at a waiter for bringing the wrong order or request to speak to the manager when a cashier made a mistake?
Have you ever watched that scene unfold and thought, “Stylish”?
These are classic cases of people mixing self-confidence with self-esteem. Many people think that being assertive in these situations means being aggressive and intolerant.
If you want people to think you have class and compassion for others, this is not the way to do it.
Being rude, distant, overly critical or downright rude to people is not assertive and certainly not stylish. It’s selfish.
You see this all the time in interactions with people in the service sector.
So many people, when they don’t get the impeccable service they desire, puff themselves up and complain.
What they never take into account is the feelings or situation of the service people. That waiter may be new and trying his best to learn the trade. He didn’t mess up on purpose.
The cashier can be challenged by a brand new payment terminal in which he or she has received sufficient training. They certainly aren’t out to ruin your day!
Yes, sometimes people provide bad service because they don’t care or even out of spite.
But the vast majority don’t, and they deserve compassion, not rudeness.
3) Being rough
Crude oil is too thick, dirty and impure to put in any gas tank.
In much the same way, rude, insensitive, and offensive behavior is too much for most people to handle.
When I say rough here, I’m talking about swearing and using offensive language and talking about basic topics like sex and bodily waste.
However, I don’t want you to misunderstand me.
I’m not saying there is a time and a place for literally nothing. As the old saying goes, “I like a rude joke as much as the next guy…”
However, you really need to know your audience and think about time and place when it comes to this type of behavior.
Farting at the bar can be hilarious, but it won’t get the same kind of reception at a funeral.
That’s where compassion comes into play.
All people carry wounds that you cannot see, and many of these can be related to sex, violence and verbal abuse. If you bring up these topics rudely, you could callously remind them of their traumas without even realizing it.
Rude behavior usually lacks compassion, and for that reason it is anything but stylish.
4) Preying on the weak
I knew a very rich girl, Maria, who thought she was quite stylish, but she was the only one.
Everywhere she went, she was always surrounded by a group of people. But they weren’t her clique or circle of friends.
They were hangers-on, people she attracted with her wealth and good looks and then regularly used and discarded.
Most of these people were nice, too nice even to realize they were being used until it was too late. Others also clearly had low self-esteem and seemed to think they could boost themselves by associating with Maria because of her status.
I watched the same cycle repeat itself for years.
New people would look forward to Maria, and she would publicly ridicule them, insult them and make them feel small. The others in the group never dared to stand up for the person who was the target of her abuse that day.
They all seemed happy that it wasn’t them… until it was.
To me, her behavior indicated that she was insecure and had it Negative self image that she had to use or hurt others just to make herself feel superior.
And I don’t think anyone has ever discovered this kind of preying on the weak and using people who are too nice to be classy.
5) Avoiding responsibility
There are several ways to avoid responsibility, and people who lack class and compassion will exhibit them all.
You can avoid responsibility by not admitting your mistakes.
People do this by pretending not to know what went wrong, by arguing and saying they are not to blame, or by denying that they were involved in the first place.
While none of this is exactly classy or admirable behavior, it’s not all that unusual or surprising.
But there are worse ways to avoid responsibility.
Blaming others or simply allowing the blame to fall on someone else’s shoulders, knowing full well that they are not to blame, is much, much worse.
Obviously, this is sneaky, deceitful behavior that no one would ever respect if they found out.
But even worse, it’s so harmful to people that they’re throwing them under the bus.
This can happen in social situations, such as blaming someone else for spilling the beans when you’ve actually revealed the secret.
But even worse, imagine being fired because you are blamed for something someone else did!
Pushing someone else to take your fall shows a serious lack of compassion that absolutely no one will respect.
6) Don’t share
We all learned to share in kindergarten, right?
At least we were told to take turns sharing toys and that if we were given a treat, we better have enough of it to share with everyone.
Well, clearly these lessons just didn’t stick for some people.
So many people seem to feel entitled to have more or better things than others, regardless of whether they even earned or received their money.
Entitlement is pretty much the opposite of compassion. Although many people have good manners and perfect etiquette, their lack of compassion for their fellow human beings will prevent them from being seen as stylish.
People who exhibit these six behaviors lack class and compassion without realizing it.
They can have wealth and appearance. They can be articulate and friendly.
But without compassion they simply have no class, and everyone will notice that.
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