Vikram and Vinod were best friends. They did everything together–they played the same games and they had the same group of friends. It was hard to tell one from the other.

Even so, everybody liked Vinod but barely tolerated Vikram. Why? The answer is simple: politeness and manners. Vinod was always polite and took everyone’s feelings into consideration. Vikram, on the other hand, tended to be rude. He often spoke without thinking and hurt other people’s feelings.

While Vikram teased his friends when they got low marks, Vinod asked them how he could help them study better. As a result, when Vikram scored goals in a football match, his teammates were indifferent to his success, while Vinod’s missed goal would be met with smiling faces and comforting remarks. 

American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is short, but there is always enough time for courtesy.”  To be better human beings, we should constantly ask ourselves how we can be more polite. Politeness means being empathetic, good-hearted, and, most important of all, humble. 

Definition of polite 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘polite’ as “behaving in a way that is socially correct and shows an understanding of and care for other people’s feelings”. The meaning of politeness is simply treating people the way you would want to be treated. Who would like it if they were talked down to? Whenever you interact with someone, focus on how to be polite and courteous.

How to be polite

It’s easy, really. If you want to know how to be humble and polite, think about the people you love dearly. How do they talk? What do they say that makes you feel good? Here are a few tips you can use to be more polite. 

Always saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘Please’ is the best example of politeness. These two magic words are the answer to your question of how to speak politely to others. 

Appreciation is an important part of politeness. Everyone likes to be appreciated. So whenever someone does something nice for you, no matter how small, always be ready with a ‘Thank you’ and a smile. It will make the person feel good about themselves and you as well. 

Another way of being polite is to say ‘please’ before making any request. It does not matter if the person is just doing their job by helping you. If you want someone to make  some kind of effort to make your life easier, you should always request them to do so by saying ‘please.’

How to show politeness?

Always greet people with a smile and a hello. Make sure that the people around you feel comfortable around you. Do not use crass or rude language. Do not do or say anything that might offend someone. Even if you think you are joking, think before you say something that could offend or upset the other person. Choose your words carefully. What seems funny to you might hurt a lot of people.

Politeness examples

Here are some ways of being polite when interacting with others:

1. Make small talk: You could ask others about their day, ask if they need any help, or ask if you could do something for them. 

2. Show courtesy: Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when asking someone to do something for you.

3. Respect your elders: Consider your elders’ opinions.

4. Congratulate others on their achievements: When you applaud other people’s success, they will do the same for you.

5. Avoid swearing and using rude language: If you are upset or angry, avoid making a scene or using foul language.

6. Take other people’s feelings into consideration: If something makes you feel bad, make it a point to avoid saying or doing so yourself.

Former US President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Politeness is a sign of dignity, not subservience.” Politeness dictates you shouldn’t impose your opinion on others. 

We all have different opinions, and being polite means respecting everyone’s view. Don’t pressure people into doing or saying something they would rather not.

One needs to be polite to thrive. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer described the importance of being polite in this famous quote: “It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude. To make enemies by unnecessary and willful incivility is just as insane a proceeding as to set your house on fire. For politeness is like a counter—an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.”

Harappa Education’s Interpreting Self course will help you gather tools to assess your values and reflect on life-changing experiences in an exercise called the ‘River of Life’. It will also equip you to understand how you work and deal with people. Unleash the power of politeness by learning to interpret yourself. 

Explore blogs on topics such as leadership qualitiesleadership lessonsleadership strengthshow to handle criticism, and how to motivate your team in our Harappa Diaries section to hone your leadership skills.

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