A refined person gets that way from a kind of cultivation that comes from within; others experience that refinement through that person’s speech and behavior. So what makes a refined person?
A refined person’s traits
Punctuality shows respect for others; more so, it reveals excellent sincerity. Zizhi Tongjian, a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography published in 1084, states: “Once a man makes a promise, a thousand pieces of gold can’t make it change.” So don’t underestimate punctuality. A person who doesn’t respect others lacks a proper upbringing, let alone self-restraint.
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2. Cares for others
Caring for others shows kindness. This kind of person cares for others when they need it. This is especially true for their attitude toward those who are not as strong, such as the elderly, children, vulnerable groups, etc. Helping and caring for others shows you are a refined person.
3. Talks with restraint
How does one “talk with restraint”? The essential thing is to listen carefully and not interrupt others casually. Wait to express your opinions after listening to others. When talking, don’t be absent-minded or in a rush to speak. It is also an excellent practice to smile and look someone in the eye while listening and expressing your opinion.
4. Has a friendly attitude
One’s attitude is a person’s fundamental mental outlook. What makes up a good attitude? Just be kind. Being kind means having others in your heart and always being glad to help others. Only a highly refined person can always exude kindness everywhere and in every gesture.
5. Has a pertinent tone
When one’s style is appropriate, it reflects the sincerity of one’s heart when talking to people. Cheng Yi (1033-1107), a renowned Confucian during the Northern Song Dynasty, said: “Those who touch people with genuineness will respond with genuineness.” When you talk with sincerity, it is the highest kind of communication. Specifically, it is to be calm, persuade people with reason, and avoid using an emotional voice.
6. Cultivates conversational skills
When you can speak the truth with skill and style while talking with others, you will benefit them and gain their respect. Even if you disagree with others’ opinions, speak with reason and calmness. Don’t talk back, as that will make people feel you are disrespectful. If someone makes a mistake, bring it up calmly, and don’t be overly critical.
7. Is not arrogant
Zeng Guofan (1811-1872) said: “The talented people in the world, ancient and modern, have all been defeated by their arrogance.” An arrogant person hinders himself and shows a false sense of superiority in front of others. This person might also make fun of other people’s flaws, trample on others’ dignity, and leave people feeling disgusted. A well-refined person will never be like this.
8. Keeps promises
As the saying goes: “What has been said cannot be unsaid.” If you make a promise to others, you must fulfill it. If you know you can’t do something, don’t promise it. It disappoints others when you promise something you cannot do, and it causes a delay in the other person’s affairs.
It is no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of character. If a promise cannot be kept for some unforeseen reason, the refined person will explain and apologize sincerely.
To be excellent means to be broad-minded and tolerant. As the sayings go: “All the rivers run into the sea,” and “A prime minister’s mind should be broad enough for poling a boat.” Magnanimity is a kind of generosity and tolerance that can only be achieved by keeping an open mind.
There are often many contradictions and frustrations in life. However, when one can keep a generous attitude and laugh it off, is there any other way to be more charming and refined?
10. Shows compassion
A refined person is benevolent and righteous. The actions that exemplify this do not need to be grand events. On the contrary, these people consistently do their best to help and support others through their difficulties and misfortunes. This is the most excellent way to cultivate refinement.
Translated by Patty Zhang