Speaking Habits and Politeness
January 4, 2018
Author: Bianca Yang
What is people’s deal with fake niceness? People avoid being direct because they think it’s impolite but end up saying things that are even more obnoxious than the direct version. For example: There are a lot of dirty dishes in the sink. vs. Could you please do the dishes? I want to draw a distinction between this oblique version of speaking and being passive aggressive. Passive aggressiveness is a deliberate attempt to hurt someone. It’s also a stupid way to hurt someone, because it’s clear that you’re too cowardly to speak up directly about something that’s bothering you. This kind of sideways speaking that I’m referring to is a deliberate attempt to be nice. They don’t want to embarrass someone by directly pointing out some fault, so they try to imply that something should be done. But why bother? Embarrassment tends to be short-lived, especially if the other person is good-hearted. Also, implications don’t always translate well.
Speak directly and with politeness. Examine your intentions when you speak, because those will always carry out into your actions. People are very sensitive to body language and tonal inflection. Avoid letting things fester. Face up to the inconveniences of life, because they’re not going to go away, and the more times you face them, the better you get at dealing with them. I much prefer someone having enough heart and tact to ask me to do something than to be oblique and volunteer me to do something or make some sideways comment that implies something should be done or directly order me to do something. Most direct orders I’ve received have been rude and demeaning, so unless I am badly veering off course, please be graceful and ask.
I feel like the art and requirement of politeness has been lost in the US. People still hold open doors and do those superficial acts of kindness, but people seem so much more aggressive here than in Canada. People here don’t bother saying “sorry” if they bump into you, they don’t move out of your way when walking against you on the sidewalk (gah!!!!), they’re super sensitive about identity, they’re tense about politics, and just so much more reasonable. Also, Canadian cities seem so much safer than American cities. This paragraph quickly became a series of bash America sentences. There are certain parts of America that bother me, but I’m not convinced yet that I should give up American citizenship for Canadian or other citizenship. I just want people to be more reasonable and nice to be around.
Parents are responsible not for raising good children, but for raising good adults. Kids know how to be kids. It’s the discipline to act decent even when you don’t want to and doing the hard job of fulfilling undesirable responsibilities that needs to be taught so society can be enjoyable for all those involved.
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