I frequently tease my colleagues for being too polite. The conversation goes something like this:
Colleague: Chris, do you possibly have time to review this for me? I hope it’s not too much trouble.
Me: You really don’t need to be so polite. Reviewing your work is literally my job.
It’s light-hearted. We have a little laugh and then get on with the work.
The other day, I had one such exchange with a colleague, and it got me thinking: There’s no reason we have to be polite to each other, but it really does make life more pleasant.
When someone asks me in a polite manner to do something, I want to do it well and quickly for their sake, not just to get it off my to-do list. I feel the need to make a positive contribution to that person’s life in response to their being polite to me.
Additionally, I enjoy pleasant exchanges, even in less than ideal circumstances.
A couple of days ago, I got pulled over by traffic police who were checking car licences and driver’s licences. It turned out my car licence was out of date, which resulted in me getting a fine.
The traffic officer was polite, friendly and professional. I responded by being friendly. She asked me some questions and wrote out my fine. When she was done, we smiled at each other and wished each other a good day before I drove off. I’m not happy about the fine (though I recognise the fault lies with me for not renewing my licence, not with the officer for fining me), but my interaction with the traffic officer was a pleasant one, simply because of how we both approached it.
Looking at conflict situations in my life, politeness always makes resolution much easier. If I have reason to call a service provider to complain about the service, my being angry and aggressive is never constructive. However, if I’m friendly and courteous, I typically find that my complaint is swiftly resolved.
It’s not always easy to be polite. Sometimes my emotions get the better of me and I lose my temper. It’s never useful.
Be polite. Always. It really does help.