The major possibility of being mis-understood as a meek person takes most people away from the basic elements of politeness, albeit it is a trait ingrained within us, naturally, by divinity.
Politeness is generally regarded to be a reflection of civilized behavior, where decent and courteous manners are extended to all without exceptions. Politeness is an attitude of choice; and it is not an idle trait, but is an impetus towards garnering a societal setup that values nobility. A good upbringing ensures and initiates the first impulse to be polite. “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax”.
The formative years of ages between 4-7 years are critically important in the development of attitudes and ultimately the adult personality of the future that will emerge. It is my view that school teachers, who are responsible for classes beginning from kindergarten to say up to class/standard 5th, play a pivotal and significant role in the development of the “personality” of the “future generations” and the “future leaders”. The nurturing of a child’s behavior is the primary responsibility of firstly, the parents, the larger family, followed in close step by the school teachers at the play-group level.
And God forbid, if the teachers themselves lack basic abilities and faculties of good manners, then no child can be blamed for their irrational responses to situations. Over many decades now, we as a society have relegated the importance of making enquiries about the qualification of teachers at any school, prior to entrusting the Apple of our Eye(s) to their custody for learning. There was a time where “Montessori training” was mandatory for teachers, who were responsible for the initial years of schooling. I suspect this requirement has been blatantly dispensed by the policy makers. Why it escapes our attention, that it is only through the medium of education that politeness is induced, in our persona; is a fact and hence is a compelling question. What is bred in the bone will emerge out in flesh. There can never be a greying fox or wolf that will change his teeth, nature or be ever good. No garment can mask, even though it be of the most expensive silk, the inherent impoliteness. Fig leaves do not ever conceal sins.
Impoliteness has many manifestations. It can range from silence to cold response to the presence of others, to the extreme impetuousness, leading to the use of unpleasant words and language, in every day inter-action, with colleagues, family, others, etc,
Impoliteness is a cause of friction in all types of relationships, covering both personal and professional life. Impoliteness can emerge in a personality either by provocation or hopelessly it can be an inherent trait. The former is correctable and controllable with ease and little effort; the later would require a paradigm shift in the pattern of the mind map that firstly, permits impolite behavior and subsequently refuses to accept it as something that needs corrective endeavors. There is denial that this one single characteristic is abhorred by every society; it is disliked and looked upon as a reflection of the quality of upbringing. Kahlil Gibran writes, “The real test of good manners is to be able to put up with bad manners pleasantly.”
Disagreeable behavior is not a valid initiative to take to seek agreement. To disagree with a point of view, does not require any of us to loose grace; the dissent can be voiced, within a decent and controlled demeanor. There are many who believe that the raising of the decibel level would assure them of winning an argument or even a Boardroom discussion. While in my experience, I have seen numerous individuals in my career who by raising their voice made only a laughable and comical spectacle of themselves.
In our corporate environment, there is everyday demonstration of the despicable attitudes of disdainful dis-regard to basic norms of politeness in any conversation.
Politeness rarely will be responded with impoliteness. On the contrary, people and colleagues would be inclined to help and assist in the achievement of any task / assignment. It is my view that the greater the person is, the greater is his/her polite disposition.
No civil award bestows upon the recipient nobility of the character of being polite, regardless of who, where and when. If being polite is the outcome of any expediency, then surely it is neither inherent nor long lasting. Polite, now and today; but impolite the next day is a strange behavior that is also a perfect example of expedient duplicity of character. Polite with the boss (supervisors) and extremely impolite with juniors and peers, is an everyday case in point, in almost all organizations. This is politeness with hypocrisy. There must be no expectation of polite response from an ill-bred person. Possibly it is an easier task to alter the course of a mighty river but changing attitudes is a far more difficult adventure.
Why should there be a short supply of polite behavior, especially when it costs nothing, but instead gives the highest dividends, both in the short and long term? Within organizations it is good to disseminate that polite behavior is the first cousin, nay Siamese twin to virtue and civility. Politeness is that dice that opens up all closed doors. Those of character, who attain high offices in life, are mostly the humble, polite and noble. Their currency of relationship building is polite demeanor.
Politeness, once recognized and adopted by any individual, becomes a fountain of inexhaustible supply of goodwill towards all. This leads to being in harmony with colleagues, even in the presence of disagreements. The inferno of sparring, war of words and disputations can easily be doused by polite dealings. Politeness is a lubricant that removes friction between people and relationships.
Polite etiquettes help insulate the mind that may be suggestive of thoughts, actions and reactions of conduct unbecoming. It is a sheer folly, if politeness is to be mistaken with any form of weakness or meekness. It is a powerhouse of a trait that has withstood the meaningless acrimony in human behavior. The best way to repulse any aggressive behavior by the supervisor or colleagues is to respond with calmness of polite attitude. Against provocation, a polite trait present in the individual, acts as bulwark to base temptations of reacting in kind. No wise manager or supervisor will push a polite member of the team against the wall, for they would be well aware that the boomerang effect they will receive through polite response will be lethal. An anonymous quote says, “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are.” Finally, politeness begets politeness.
The writer is a senior banker and a freelance contributor