1. Be Polite
Use your magic words you were taught as a child. Say “thank you” to the clerks who are helping you. Say “please” when you are requesting something. Enter the room with a smile on your face. Never make the person you are with feel like you are rushed. I am a transplanted Southerner and really had a tough time learning about taking time when conversing with someone. I really came to appreciate this many years ago when my husband was going through a crisis and had to go to Boston for some medical tests. In the hospital in Atlanta, the staff spent so much time making sure both he and I were comfortable, understood what was going on, and had everything we needed. When we went for an MRI in Boston, they had my husband in that machine faster than a southern nurse would still be saying, “Good morning. How are you today?” It makes a big difference in how you feel.
2. Share Good Home Cooking
Casseroles and other delicious food go hand in hand in the South. Every Southern woman has a casserole dish or two with her name on the bottom to take to shut ins and parents with new babies. This is not a tub of fried chicken from carryout but your own cooking and all the love that goes into it. It is comfort food at its finest. Taking food to shut in families that you know shows love. You can always just leave it on the front porch and then call them and tell them it is there. They’ll remember to get your dish back to you later because your name is on the bottom.
3. Show kindness and helpfulness
Extend kindness to everyone. This is the time to ring the doorbell of your neighbors and though the closed glass storm door, tell them that you are on your way to the market and is there anything they need. Do they need some medicines picked up? Be non-judgmental if the answer is “Oh, yes! Could you please get me a couple of bottles of Chardonnay?” Treat your neighbors like they’re family. Offer to mow the lawn. Bring fresh flowers without asking.
Southern charm is just going that extra step. If you did receive some food in a casserole, you would never return that casserole empty. If you give someone flowers, you will put them in a vase. You will write thank you notes. It’s just that going beyond or a little more than might be expected. It’s the personal touch that shows you care. Having grace under pressure and making others feel comfortable is all part and parcel of Southern charm.
The golden rule in the South is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, without expecting reciprocation. Southerners don't give or dole out favors as an obligation, but they do it out of courtesy, respect, and mere habit, in hopes that you'll return again and again. The charity reaches beyond nearest friends and neighbors. Southerners consider strangers just friends they haven’t yet met.