A true Southern gentleman is born and raised by parents who understand the meaning of good manners, respect for elders and women, and love of God and country. He does not have to be wealthy, but he should be able to recognize and appreciate the finer things in life. Unfortunately, the Southern gentleman is a dying breed. His values are considered "old-fashioned" and unnecessary in today's increasingly rude and hostile society. However, some of us still remember the days when we actually knew more than one Southern gentleman, and what a pleasure it was to be around them.
Southern gentlemen have a distinctively charming manner of speaking, but their conversations are charming because they reflect their traditional values and distinctive style. It would be difficult to learn how to speak like a Southern gentleman without having the inner spirit of one; one runs the risk of sounding like a caricature. But here are a few tips for someone who wants to try to learn how to talk like a Southern gentleman.
Southern gentlemen always use the terms "ma'am" and "sir" when speaking to an older adult. For example, "No sir, I did not see the Alabama-Tennessee game." Or, "Yes ma'am, my mama went to Ole Miss." These phrases are ingrained in their speaking patterns, so that it would be unnatural to say, "Yeah" or "Uh-huh" when addressing an elder. A Southern gentleman also will call older women "Miss" or "Missus" and older gentlemen "Mister" as a matter of respect.
A Southern gentleman will look you in the eyes when speaking to you, and will listen attentively while you speak to him. He does not interrupt, nor does he appear to be planning his next remark while you are speaking. He gives you the impression that he has all day to listen to what you are saying.
Compliments come easily for Southern gentlemen. They are skilled in the art of complimenting without sounding sleazy or self-serving. For instance, "Ms. Sally, your homemade peach jam is delicious." Or, "Mr. Jim, that is a sharp-looking boat." Smooth and pleasant conversational skills are a specialty of the Southern gentleman.
The Southern gentleman will never be heard bragging or boasting about his or his family's accomplishments or possessions. He is focused on other people's accomplishments; this has the result of making other people feel comfortable and happy in his presence. Good manners are reflected in his conversation and personality.