1.showing good manners toward others, as inbehavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil:
3.of a refined or elegant kind:
I grew up being told that being polite is more important than anything else. Being polite is good and I do see the occurrence of “Please, thank you, yes ma’m” disappearing. I also teach my students to say these things, as do several other educators in my building.
There comes a point when politeness can kill.
I recognized this when I was saying things to be polite instead of setting healthy boundaries or speaking up for justice. I was getting run over consistently at work and in relationships and frankly, I had no idea what I wanted in life (to do, to be, even to eat sometimes!) I had a discussion last year with a very wise lady about this very situation. She was raised the same way. We commented on how much we did not accomplish by being polite.
In the midst of being too polite, we forget to be real. Honesty takes a back burner, even honesty within our own souls. There is a friendship that I might have been able to rekindle, had I not been focused on being polite and just sat down with this person and got real. There are many work situations that would have gone differently, had I not allowed politeness to be the backdrop of my life. There are even dating situations that would have been WAY different had I just told the guy to take a hike instead of worrying about HIS feelings and being polite.
The adventure in this becomes setting boundaries and learning to speak freely without being unkind to others. Speak the truth in love, is even mentioned in the Bible. I find that the more one invests in and talks openly with others, the more you learn their perspective on life, and knowing where a person comes from certainly heals and gives insight.
Two articles that I found concerning this situation state:
Politeness insists that we keep our mouth shut, nursing feelings, and letting time elapse until the next major event. Justice, however, demands that we learn how to heal those wounds, and prevent those from happening. It also means, to the chagrin of warmongers everywhere, we approach others with love for one another.
Justice takes serious reflection, a deep soul-searching, and a hard look at the image we project when it comes to the word “peace.”
Politeness can even hurt us in our personal relationships, too. These days, people love ranting on social media, jumping on high horses, and hoping to get as many likes, retweets, and memes as possible, never truly resolving the original matter, but trying to show a tough exterior in the name of “honesty.” They love claiming independence, judge others readily, and act like the “enemies” they seek to vanquish.
Honesty becomes so diluted that integrity falls by the wayside. Real honesty, and justice, asks us to speak to the truth to heal, not to disband, to build, not to distort histories, to change understandings, not cement positions. Real honesty is hard.
And, in another article,
You may be surprised to hear that politeness and kindness often inhibit creativity. In fact, researchers have shown that when groups adopt a “no-criticism/no-argument” ground rule, they produce far fewer creative solutions to problems. A culture that values debate, criticism, and quarrelsome discussions will be more productive, creative—and ironically—harmonious.
A culture that values debate, criticism, and quarrelsome discussions will be more productive, creative—and ironically—harmonious.