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Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Importance of Being Polite

Politeness and decency towards people is a sign of maturity. Maintaining decorum is not always easy, especially when you feel you have been wronged or mistreated by someone else. However, in the long-run, dealing with people in a polite, well-mannered and courteous way - even if you don't like them - will serve you much better.

In my life, the times where I have really messed up are when I've allowed my emotions to cloud my rationale, and thus let my ego get the better of me. Ego is often the antidote to humility, and humility can be expressed through politeness. Naturally, there are two types of polite people; people who are genuinely polite, and people who act polite but are in fact manipulative and use faux courtesy as a guise to mistreat others.

When researching my novella 'Psycho Girl', I read a lot online about psychopaths vs sociopaths and carefully observed psychopathic/nasty characters in film, TV and literature. Psychopaths often feign politeness due to needing to 'blend in.' They need others to perceive them as normal, decent human beings no that no one catches on to their cruelty. Yesterday I posted about characters in Breaking Bad. Gus Fring is a ruthless, terrible man; cold, meticulous, poised and of course, polite. He treats everyone with decency and pragmatic reason (sometimes genuinely, although mainly for the interest of his business). He smiles frequently, but his smiles often appear forced and never reach his eyes.

Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones is a better example of a truly vicious, demonic person, who behaves chillingly friendly despite his evil behaviours. Even when he mistreats others there is an element of joy within him. He enjoys torturing others for the sake of it and doesn't see it as wrong, and frequently acts kind and polite to others and rarely 'loses it' or blows up. To be truly evil you must convince everyone else that you are sane, and be severely in control of your emotions.

Love this video so much XD a good example of 
how a psychopath will often pretend to be kind.

Obviously you don't need to be a psychopath to be polite, but psychopaths are a good example of how politeness can be used to gain the trust of others. If you are polite and sober, people will respect you way more than if you are uncouth and drunk. This doesn't mean literally; constantly blowing up in people's faces and talking rudely to others - even if they are being rude to you - will win you no allies. A smart judge of character knows that being friendly and mild-mannered and seldom losing your 'cool' will get you what you want and get you ahead in life.

This can include pretending to side with others even when you disagree with this. I've been doing this for years; I may not agree with a person, but I show empathy (and because I'm not a psychopath it's often genuine). When people think you are on their side they are more inclined to want to work with you, help you or listen to you. This can be particularly useful if you are trying to persuade someone about something.

Take this example. Two years ago I was on a bus and I didn't have any money on my Oyster card, nor did I have much in my bank account. I decided to not pay for the bus and wing it; the ticket inspector happened to come on (a rare occurrence). Rather than apologising humbly and tapping the card reader with my contactless bank card, I got into some stuuuuuupid argument with the inspector, shouting and ranting and raving, and I ended up getting fined forty quid. (Bus journeys cost £1.50 per journey in London).

That entire situation could have played out a lot differently if I had been humble, polite and pushed aside my arrogant pride. Everyday people choose ego and arrogance over humility and politeness. You can ask somebody for the time and they will manage to create an argument out of it. You can decide whether or not you want to engage with that argument or walk away from it. After all, if someone is yelling at you and you respond with nothing, they will run out of steam. Who is going to end up looking stupid? Why care if some fool you're never going to see again is taking out their problems on you?

People usually blow up or cause conflict because of some dissatisfaction within themselves; they're unhappy, tired, sick, hungry, or dealing with some severe problems. None of this excuses their behaviour (or yours) and gives them an excuse to be an arsehole, but it can help to understand why people behave the way they do. If all of us realised this, perhaps we would note that it's better for all of us to be polite to one another and make our lives easier, rather than stirring up pointless drama that ends up getting us fined money we don't have.

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