In praise of politeness (and a jar of strawberries)

 

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A few home-grown strawberries – fragrant, juicy and luscious – from crowns planted in March. They’re sending out lots of runners so we’ll have more plants for next year. Yippee.

 

I read an article at the weekend about politeness, or rather the lack of it, in society today. People are too busy to be polite it seems; statistics show that rudeness is on the rise. This is a big bugbear of mine and it never fails to get me leaping on my high horse. Being polite, thinking of others and having good manners are important. All ease social interactions and help situations run smoothly – you know where you are if everyone follows the same general codes of conduct. I know this might sound incredibly old-fashioned and of course I don’t mean reverting to the uptight, 1950’s-style of manners where all emotion was kept well and truly in check, but I do think being polite and considerate makes the world a better place.

I’m forever telling my children to pay attention when someone is speaking to them (ie, me), even if that person is boring them to death. There are ways to politely extricate yourself from a dull conversation; there is no need to be rude, to glaze over and start tapping at a screen. I tell them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Always. I cannot abide the sense of entitlement that seems to be creeping in across all age groups.

Simple things like acknowledging the receipt of gifts, invitations, emails*, even job applications… There is a disheartening tendency for none of these things to be acknowledged. Isn’t it much better to say ‘thank you’? I guess it depends on whether we care about others and the impression we give. What people think of you is their business and it doesn’t do to worry too much about that, but it is good to care about how our actions affect others. Whether it’s a company not responding to cvs sent in for a job vacancy or someone not rsvp-ing an invite, the zeitgeist seems to be to not care at all. Saying ‘thanks’ doesn’t take much effort and can make all the difference to the person on the receiving end.

Happily, my nagging sound advice appears to be working so far as my offspring are polite and charming (when they are out, as far as I know; not always at home). Right. I’m off to put my high horse back in the stable. Thank you for reading 🙂

* a couple of my friends will chortle if they read this. Forgetting is not the same as ignoring, ok?

 

 

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12 thoughts on “In praise of politeness (and a jar of strawberries)

  1. I’m with you every step of the way on this. And if people are rude to me, I go out of my way to be polite – it shows them up and perhaps discourages bad manners at the same time.
    Margaret P

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  2. Too true. I used to think it was the young who lacked manners, but just recently I’ve been charmed by the manners of several youngsters and struck by the rudeness of their elders eg why do people think it acceptable to make a phone call while someone in a shop is serving them? I could write reams on lack of politeness, but that would be most impolite.

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  3. There will always be people who are more polite and less polite than one’s own standard. The trick for ongoing sanity and happiness is to avoid giving offence to those with higher standards and to avoid being irritated by those with lower standards.

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  4. Oh those strawberries look yummy. Mine have long-finished and the ever-bearers are suffering from the drought. I haven’t even taken runners yet as it’s been so dry. And yes, being polite and attentive to others in person costs nothing and is to be recommended. I’m a bit old-fashioned I think and would always send a note or postcard in thanks for a present or entertainment. One of my recently-discovered treasures is all the ‘thank you’ notes and drawings sent by my children to their grandparents,

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  5. I certainly agree. What’s more, I’m disturbed by all the anger that seems just below the surface but that erupts in very ugly ways online, in traffic, and elsewhere. Why are people so angry, I wonder, including people who lead very privileged lives. Also, it seems that in practice kindness is not valued much as an essential virtue.

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  6. I agree! While helping a group earlier this week at work I had my head bitten off by one of them, for no reason at all that I could tell, and it was a group that you would expect to have a reputation for knowing about good manners!!! So if they are being rude it makes me wonder what the rest of us are coming to. I am glad to know that you and your children will not be part of that group though! Neither, I hope, will I! xx

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    1. No excuse for rudeness unless in emergency situation! I think there are people across all age groups who behave badly but generally it’s the young who get a bad press. In my experience most youngsters are polite and lovely. We will be beacons of kindness Amy!

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  7. I’m very lucky to live in a community where, on the whole, people are polite and friendly. The teenagers who grew up here are remarkably respectful and cheery – I think because high spirits were kept in check by knowing they had freedom but with boundaries. (In a small community everyone knows who you are!) I smiled when I saw your comment about angry people needing some gardening – it’s a very soothing occupation!

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