I was at a wedding recently and watched a friend of mine walk his daughter down the aisle. One of the most touching moments was the father-daughter dance at the reception. I thought to myself “What a great guy, and what an impressive example of how to be a man”. I wrote recently about respect being a key to a great relationship, and I started thinking about what it takes to be a man today. Here are a few of the things that come to mind, when I reflect on the guys I know and respect.
Every man I know who I admire presents respect for those they encounter. In every act, they demonstrate that they value the other person. Whether that is their spouse, child, friend or a stranger. Speak directly, without any hint of condescension. Consider the day the other person is having, and attempt to put yourself in their shoes.
Being manly does not mean you need to be a dick to others. Quite the reverse. First, you need to respect yourself; then you can fully respect others.
Nothing is more of a turn-off to another person than to be confronted with someone who comes off as superior. Ask yourself if you do any of these things:
- Talk a lot without being prompted
- Complain about stuff on social media
- Never ask how the other person is doing
- Display strong opinions on any subject, regardless of your familiarity with it
- Constantly talk about your accomplishments and future plans
- Refuse to enter a conversation with a person who does not share your views
If you do, you may need to examine how you perceive others, you may be looking at others as an audience, rather than equal participants in life. Take a breath. Try and have a conversation, rather than preach. Ask opinions.
Being decisive is one way to be strong. Offer an opinion, but be willing to change it if logic or circumstances make it more desirable. Don’t be afraid to argue a point, healthy debate is part of learning and growing.
More importantly, being strong means being there for others. Be “The Rock” for them! (As much as I admire Dwayne Johnson, you can be a strong guy without rocking those pipes!). Sit on the floor and hug your spouse when they cry. Hold someone’s hand. Give a firm handshake.
The worst thing any man can do is take himself too seriously. The ability to laugh at life and yourself gives you a chance to step back and appreciate just how much of a gift your life is, and the lives of others. Having a sense of humor lets you free your soul occasionally. Nothing is as healthy as a great laugh.
Spend time with the people you love – even if it is a morning cup of coffee with your partner. Tell jokes, bad puns, and tell stories.
The most critical trait of being a modern “real” man is to be emotionally open. If you are angry, accept it and don’t make it personal. If you love someone, you’d better let them know! You don’t need to wander around with Kleenex stuck up your sleeve – it is more about being open to experiencing all emotions. The days of the clichéd “man as stoic” not showing any emotion are over. You are allowed to smile, frown, laugh, cry – pretty much anything goes (as long as you don’t go too over the top).
Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on what it takes to be a man these days!
UPDATED: I originally referred to men who put themselves first and don’t have a sense of humor in a negative fashion. I fell into the trap of categorizing people, which I appreciate is the opposite viewpoint of what I am talking about here. I’ve removed that categorization.
To learn more about being open, check out the post on emotional vocabulary.