Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is Politeness

Polite or Not-So-Polite

When you talk about politeness, I think the first thing that comes to most people's mind is saying, "Please" and "Thank You." Those are the basic things we try to teach our kids when they are young and build upon that as they get older. While what people consider polite behavior can vary from culture to culture and person and person, I think that most would agree that being polite is showing respect to another person during your interactions with them. However, that doesn't always happen. I think we all have examples of the indifferent sales person as well as a friend that says something insensitive. I know I, myself, had been guilty of this from time to time. Sometimes even with the best of intentions, the foot gets inserted into the mouth, and some not-so-polite things come out.

Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back or had something said to you that crossed the line into the not-so-polite area? I asked a few people for examples of not-so-polite behavior and here are some that they gave me.

I was wearing drawstring pants and on an elevator when a person said,
"When are you due?"
"I'm not pregnant."
"Yes, you are. I see your belly button."
"That's not my belly button, that's the tie from my drawstring pants. I'm not pregnant. I'm fat."

My mother had a brain scan because of visual migraines and when it was over, the doctor said,
"You have a beautiful brain for someone your age."
"What does that mean?"
"If you were in your 20's I'd be concerned, but for someone in their 60's, it doesn't look too bad."

To a coworker, "You are thin except for your hips."

Cheerleading sponsor to high school cheerleader, "I can't get over how bowlegged you are. Did your mother ever give you cod liver oil?"

Now for one of my own unfortunate foot-in-mouth stories.
I was back at work after having my first baby, not sleeping well, and overwhelmed with the new parent thing. I was talking to a coworker who said her mother had seven kids. I said, "Wow, how did she keep from going crazy?" She replied, "She didn't. She jumped off the Mississippi River Bridge."

After she said this, I was embarrassed and felt horrible because I hadn't meant to make light of a very serious subject. But sometimes it just happens even when there are the best of intentions.
(BTW, her mother survived and was able to get help.)

So tactless and not-so-polite things are going to be said. When one of them happens, I always think about what my mother told me when I was in school, "Remember the source and move on." Then I try to remember the polite and nice things that happen every day.