Home > Language > Rudeness dressed as Politeness

Rudeness dressed as Politeness

30 December, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I just heard a series of people say “How are you” in the most perfunctory way I’ve ever come across.

I’ve left off the question mark from that sentence because that’s an accurate portrayal of the interaction. None of the people waited for a response because none of the people posed a question. I heard three different interactions between pairs of people and in each case they couldn’t wait to move on to the thing they really wanted to talk about – which was to buy something.  WHAT’S THE POINT?? You don’t care how the person behind the till is – and that’s fine. They don’t really care about you either. So don’t go through the pretence of politeness just so that you can tick the pre-programmed box in your head which says you have to. Assuming that you haven’t got the empathy levels to care about other members of society (used to be called decency, i think) then either ask a question and have the courtesy to wait for an answer – even if you just pause long enough so that it sounds like you give a damn that there is an answer never mind what it might be. OR just buy the drink and skip it.

Perhaps this rant is because I’m working in Canary Wharf with the armies of soulless suits? or is it that this is a perfectly acceptable way to communicate? am i old fashioned? or just going soft cos it’s Christmas time?

  1. Louise
    7 January, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Just caught this v late – I’m with you. I remember my first visit to the US I thought it wonderful that everyone was interested in how I was, until I saw the glazed expression on their faces as I actually gave them the lowdown.

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