There are widely considered to be six pillars to classic Southern hospitality: charity, charm, good home cooking, helpfulness, kindness, and politeness. Each one of these six qualities emphasizes a different individual aspect of how to be the most considerate person you can be and each one of these six qualities is apparent in a proper Southerner.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the Golden Rule in the Bible, and thus it’s the Golden Rule in the South. Southerners will be the first to do you a favor and expect nothing in return.
Parents don’t hesitate to teach their children about proper etiquette. The words please, thank you, and excuse me are some of the most important in a young child’s vocabulary. And children are often taught how to say these words before they know how to read them.
Southerners will never rush you through a conversation. Everything moves a little slower down South, so that means that a proper person will always indulge your whims. Even if they turn around with a little “bless her heart” after the conversation, they’ll be more than polite to your face.
Being friendly, witty, considerate, and kind are all parts of the signature Southern charm. A Southerner will walk into a room with a smile on his or her face and an openness to any guest or conversation.
The American South is what is known as an “honor culture,” in which people avoid offending others in order to preserve their reputation and that of their family. People are expected to be respectful toward their elders and women, and if they aren’t, word is going to travel fast.
Only friends you simply have not met yet. Southerners will treat people they meet with a genuine warmth and kindness. This particular brand of kindness is an important aspect of the aforementioned Southern charm.
Walk out your front door, go to the grocery store, wait in line to check out, and just count how many people will wave or say hi. Southerners will always make an effort to greet and get to know their neighbors. And that line? Your wait is going to feel a lot shorter than it typically would because you’re sure to enter into a conversation with the folks around you.
Respecting your elders may be a thing of the past in a lot of the United States, but that is not the case in the South. In addition to teaching children the basics of polite language, kids are also taught to call those who are older than them “Sir,” “Ma’am,” “Mister,” and “Missus.”
Being helpful is the final pillar of Southern charm. Even when a Southerner is a guest in someone else’s home, they’ll be the first to jump off the couch and offer to help cook dinner, clean, or make the bed. This extends to strangers (or those friends you haven’t met yet). If you’re on the side of a country road with a flat tire, someone is sure to pull over and give you a hand.