“It Costs You Nothing To Be Polite.”

4 Sep

The full quote is “When you kill someone, it costs you nothing to be polite.” Winston Churchill was great at the quip, but the point is, even when you have nothing to gain, in modern society politeness means more.

This is my Maxim #4 – and part of it, I’ll admit, is that politeness is one of my defense mechanisms. It’s hard to be angry at someone whose being polite… it’s even harder if they’re standing in front of you. However, it tends to defuse a lot of explosive situations in life, and in the end, might get you a little better treatment at a time you’re not expecting it.

Recently I took my kids out to a restaurant and the waitress brought us drinks. I had to remind them to say “Thank You,” which annoyed me – they should know better than that. Again, it’s their job to bring out drinks… you’re paying for them, but you want that waitress to come back out and check on you more than every 15 minutes? A “thank you” goes a long way in ensuring that.

When I used to work at a call center doing tech support, I realized that it was far easier for people to get angrier on the phone than in person. It’s the same reason the stormtroopers in Star Wars have masks–you can’t be sympathetic to a mindless, faceless drone, so blast away! So it wasn’t enough to be polite on the phone, you had to be sympathetic. You had to go that extra step to avoid stepping on people’s toes. They were hurting, they were vulnerable… and people don’t like to be either, so they’re gonna lash out.

If that’s how it is on the phone, it must be doubly so on the Internet. No face, no voice… you’ve just taken away 70% of communication! So I use emoticons a lot… because as much as I feel they’re stupid and vapid, they convey at least some of that non-verbal communication which translates a statement that they could interpret as aggressive to one that’s neutral or friendly.

Some people think that getting angry online makes you powerful, or snarking someone gives you strength… no, it just makes you angry and snarky. I’ve muted so many folks on my social media feeds because I don’t want their negativity (and… let me be honest, their political rants) in my life. Yet rarely do I unfollow or drop someone unless they’re interference in my online enjoyment (usually raiding my comments) becomes too much.

Am I just deluding myself? Is the world just a world of shadows and pain and I need to toughen myself more? Or does civility still matter in today’s society? Let me know in the comments below!

14 Responses to ““It Costs You Nothing To Be Polite.””

  1. Gypsy September 4, 2020 at 9:45 am #

    Civility definitely matters and being polite makes my life so much easier. The only weird thing about politeness is that many people don’t get how well it works!

  2. Cindy Georgakas September 4, 2020 at 10:58 am #

    It matters and such a great post.. I made my kids write thank you notes till they were 18 when they moved out. Also, to return calls to their grandparents and texts; never mind their mother, I gave up on that and rarely do they. I just bite my tongue now. Loved this..stormtroopers in Star Wars have masks–you can’t be sympathetic to a mindless, faceless drone, so blast away.. lol

  3. Sabiscuit September 4, 2020 at 12:35 pm #

    Agree with Cindy and the thank you notes. I was practically raised on a Debrett’s handbook and in school, certain things were reinforced. Things like thank-you notes and expressions of appreciation for specific things became second nature. When I graduated university, I realised that many people thought it was weird to be conscientious. Then I moved to a country where social intelligence is a factor of conscientiousness. I would not have lasted long professionally without that early reinforcement.

  4. Hannah Gandhi September 4, 2020 at 12:51 pm #

    Being kind is a wonderful and selfless thing for a person to do. It’s important to surround yourself with people who attract positive energy 💫✨

  5. jarilissima September 5, 2020 at 8:43 am #

    I’m the same as you: I rarely unfollow people, unless they’re making me being online a bummer. I think because one gets more attention online if one is negative/rude, then that’s what people go for. The more I look, the less people seem to be having fun… for some reason!

  6. schingle September 5, 2020 at 9:49 am #

    My grandma used to say “polite never goes out of style.”

  7. sarsm September 7, 2020 at 6:05 am #

    It does matter. It doesn’t cost you anything at all to be polite, and you may improve someone else’s day quite dramatically with a thoughtful word here and there and a warm smile. I think that in itself makes it worth it.
    I have unfriended a few people now. If they post things I find very offensive then I don’t want them in my friend circle.

  8. osarobohenry September 7, 2020 at 11:57 am #

    Thank you very much for following my blog and God bless you

  9. Amorina Rose September 22, 2020 at 6:28 am #

    Good post. Good manners would go such a long way to making a better world. It is a way of showing we see, we care, we appreciate.

  10. francefougere September 22, 2020 at 9:39 am #

    Hello ! Thank you for your subscription to my blog 🙂 Welcome ! amicalement

  11. seankfletcher September 27, 2020 at 4:52 pm #

    Civility is even more important in today’s world, due to the lack of it. In terms of what I do in life, it still goes an extremely long way. In fact, it’s an important part of being credible and seen as rational and dependable. Also, it allows you to remove yourself from those who are ranting and raving at you in a constructive manner – then you can close the door on their behaviour and move on.

  12. thehouseofprayers November 7, 2020 at 9:35 pm #

    Thank you very much for following my blog and God bless you.


  1. I Wouldn’t Cry At Her Funeral | Albigensia Press - July 14, 2022

    […] is chaos, be kind?” There’s so much hate or reason to be angry in the world – it costs you nothing to be polite. Then maybe people will come to your funeral; maybe people will wonder where you […]

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