A Polite Mistake

by swellsbennett

Is it possible to be polite and honest?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last few weeks, mostly because someone I really respected and liked made a sudden turn toward rudeness, leaving me with a dilemma: do I tell them honestly that they are being rude or politely ignore their behavior?

Because I am essentially non-confrontational, I was inclined to go with “politely ignoring” the problem. Unfortunately, this didn’t cure the problem. Instead, I witnessed incident after incident of rudeness – none of it directed at me, but all of it affecting me indirectly. This was a problem that wasn’t going to cure itself.

I consider myself an honest person, but I am loathe to hurt anyone’s feelings. If a close friend asks me what I think of an outfit they are trying on in a store, I’ll tell them exactly what I think. On the other hand, if they ask me what I think of their new dress, I’m probably going to say it’s fine, even if I don’t think it’s particularly attractive. Hey – if they already brought it home with them, they must like it pretty well. Who am I to judge?

I believe confrontation is uncomfortable for most people, which is why rude people are so rarely confronted regarding their behavior. Because they aren’t corrected, these people believe that their behavior is acceptable, leading them to indulge in that behavior even more.

I wish that I had been able to speak honestly – and confidentially – to the rude person in my life. Instead, I became part of a mob that might as well have been bearing torches and pitchforks as we drove this person – someone I previously liked and respected – from our midst.

So…is it possible to be honest and polite? In this case, I should have tried harder to be both at the same time.


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