Recently, I was scouring the Internet for beach rentals, when I came across an article about Southern hospitality. (You know how one click leads to another.) The article reported survey results, ranking particular traits that contribute to Southern states’ reputations for being hospitable. Among the characteristics described were politeness, good home cooking, and charm. South Carolina received its highest marks in the “charming” category—which, in my opinion, is the most essential element of a hospitable Southerner.
Yes, good home cooking delights the palate, and it is nice to have our display of exemplary manners acknowledged. But, you can always find a good Southern restaurant with scrumptious fried chicken and hot-skillet cornbread. And though we do take our pleasantries seriously in South Carolina, wouldn’t you rather be remembered for being irresistible than for saying “please” and “thank you”? Don’t get me wrong, neither food prep nor politeness should ever be given short shrift. But to have a reputation as a charming human being—well, that’s sweeter than a jar of stolen honey.
While being charming comes more naturally to some than others, skills can be acquired. Anyone can learn a few basics and become enchanting. If you want to hone your skills or develop expertise, consider the following tips from Ms. Bea’s Charm School course on How to Be Fascinating: The Basics.
Step 1: Smile. I am not talking about a full-toothed grin on your face, but rather a pleasant, genuine look that conveys warmth and puts your companion at ease. Imagine Louis Armstrong singing, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you,” if you need a little help.
Step 2: Be interested. The best way to convey your interest is to look the person in the eye. Summon up your listening skills—ask a question or two to find some commonality. Express empathy and understanding. Act like you are enjoying the conversation, and, chances are, you will. Whatever you do, don’t pull out your phone to check for messages or get caught scouting out the room. Give this person her moment and remain engaged.
Step 3: Be interesting. A display of confidence is attractive and appealing, so stand up straight, don’t fidget, and (a repeat of Step 2) look the person in the eye. Let your body language and words convey that, as you embrace your own uniqueness, you are willing to embrace hers.
Step 4: Be positive. No one wants to hear you complain. Seriously. No one. Make sure you leave the discussion on a high note to make the best impression.
Following these easy tips will help assure that the Palmetto State continues to garner high marks for its charming inhabitants. Accomplish these steps, and you’ll be ready to enroll in Ms. Bea’s advanced course, How to Be Fabulous.
I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.