Courtesy Works (usually)

I am in favour of being courteous, polite and well spoken. For years I worked in retail, at a major home improvement retailer , and experienced customers ranging from “polite” to “Requiring Sedation with a tranquilizer Dart filled with industrial strength Thorazine”.

Invairiably, I was polite. Why? Because 1) It usually worked, and 2)If things went really sour, my reputation for politeness would protect me from managment when the Irate customer tried to ruin my day by “Talking to my manager”. My manager could, and did respond with “D” is well known here for his couresty and customer service. It is extremely rare that we have customer complaints about his high level of servce… let’s get to the root of the problem here…"

I am polite to telemarketers … “I am sorry to interupt, but I realise that you make your money by the number of people that you sell to, and I am NOt going to buy your product over the phone. Thank you for considering me as a client, but I suggest that you will find greater profitability talking to other people.” (they are usually so shocked by this response that they apologise for wasting my time).

I am poilite to chldren, grouches, co workers, rude waiters, boors and people who seem to feel that they need to waste my time to make their life somehow, momentarily brighter and, always door to door proslytutes.

I do not mean to imply I am a “push over”, in fact I find I can say almost anything to anyone politely. It catches them off guard, and makes them actually hear what I have to say. If all else fails, it let’s me walk away more or less unscathed by their own lack of consideration. Where a “Go F…k yourself!” serves for others, I find it just as expecdient and often more impacting to say “Our time together is providing no mutual gain, I suggest most politely that you find a more suiatble venue for your actions/opinions/sales pitch/tantrum… etc”
What are YOUR thoughts, if I may most respectfully ask, on the concept of courteous behavoir?



If everyone had your enlightened attitude, the world would be a place of beauty, friendship, and grace.

Unfortunately, there are some real buttheads out there, and I occasionally lose my patience and say something completely deserved yet totally unhelpful.

I try for politeness as much as possible. I hear so many train wrecks concerning impatient customers meeting stressed-out service staff head-on while I’m working that, in the aftermath, I definitely aim to tread my way with maximum politeness through the rubble.

Something about catching more flies with honey than vinegar? Not that I’m into having a lot of flies around, mind …

Most of the time I am pleasant and polite. At a bare minimum I use all the appropriate pleases and thank yous, hold doors open for people, and offer help if I think some one appears to be struggling with something.

I once mentioned in a Dope thread that I assumed everyone acted like this (in relation to thanking wait staff) and several people pointed out that it is rare nowadays. I started observing other people and politeness turned out to be much less common than I thought.

I even noticed last week that my son, who is a perfectly pleasant 18 year old, doesn’t bother to thank me when I make him something to eat or drink. If someone just picked up a can of drink to hand to me I would say, “Thanks.”

I started out in life as a rude person, even when I had customer service jobs. I just didn’t grasp the concept. Over a period of time I realized that polite people got great results, and I started to try it myself. I found out that politeness can completely disarm a rude and aggressive person. If someone came at me breathing fire, I’d answer him respectfully and work towards solving his problem. Most times, after he heard just one respectful sentence out of my mouth, he would calm down and behave like a rational person. It was almost like magic, and it’s a shame more people don’t know about it.

I haven’t had to work with the public for a long time knock wood, but politeness is still bringing in dividends. One, I have a reputation for politeness. Two, I am confident about how to handle everyday situations that my parents never trained me how to handle.

I learned all about politeness from Miss Manners’s Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, which I recommend to everybody.


I started life out, not as a rude person, but very much as someone who didn’t think much before they talked and got angry easily. Not a good combination, as you can imagine.

Now I am aggressively polite, and it makes a huge difference in my life. I also learned patience. The angrier I get, the calmer I get. I’m almost British these days! But here’s the deal - I rarely get upset with this formula. Everyone else may get upset around me but I keep my cool. Which is way more valuable than shouting.

I am learning, to steal Anaamika’s wonderful phrase, to become more “aggressively polite”. Before, I was a pushover, which I believe now has nothing at all to do with being polite or rude. I’ve known rude pushovers, odd as that may sound.

But I do agree with everything you note in the OP. Working retail, as I did for years, I found that maintaining my cool never hurt, and almost always helped a situation. That’s not to say I did it flawlessly - there are the occasional customers for whom “give 'em what they want” means give them an opportunity for an ugly scene finished by me (the manager) banning them from the store, but those are truly rare.

Now on the customer end of things, 99% of the time things just move easier and faster and with less annoyance if I’m polite and friendly. Things which were “out of stock” when the asshole before me demanded them suddenly appear in the back room when I ask with a smile and a nice comment about the employee’s earrings.

But that assertiveness thing is something I’m still integrating. I’m learning how to be both polite and get my due as a human being and a customer. It’s very empowering.

It’s my belief that I should always remain polite even if they other person in an interraction is acting rudely. (In other words, I don’t consider the behavior of others as an excuse for poor behavior on my part.) I’m not courteous because I’ve judged certain people to “deserve” it-- I’m courteous to all because my standards demand it.

I’ve got a nasty streak a mile wide which I struggle to control every day. That nasty part of me, though, recognizes that sometimes the meanest thing you can do to someone who’s being vile is to be incredibly polite. (People who want to upset you go absolutely* apeshit* when you keep your cool and composure.)

No you may not! Who do you think you are, bothering me?

:stuck_out_tongue: I try to be as polite as possible, because it’s more trouble to think of how to be cleverly rude, and also I live in a small town and will see everyone again. When I’m out of town, it’s a little more of a crapshoot.