Being Polite

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15 KJV

Being polite is something that seems to be going out of style. I will never forget the first time I went to California and was talking to a lady; she asked me a question and I answered with “yes, ma’am.” I literally thought she was going to drop to the floor. She grabbed my arm and told me it had been a long time since she had heard someone who was as young as I, be polite.

I hadn’t really thought about it since then until I was at the store the other day. The cashier and bag boy were exchanging a very personal conversation in front of me and some other customers. When I asked a question about my total, they were very short with me. As I collected my bags, I received no “thank you” or “have a nice day.”

The same day a woman almost ran her cart into mine. She just huffed and went on. There was no “oh, I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see you – excuse me.” Has all of our self-centeredness somehow made us lose our desire to be polite? As a society, are we just too busy to say a few words of kindness?

I do my very best to make sure I thank people for things they do for me. Not because I have to say it, but because I truly appreciate what they did, and I want them to know it. They were nice to me––shouldn’t I be polite back?

Many times we keep company with people who do not show gratitude or respect. I have a theory about this. If your friend does something for you, and you say “thank you” or show respect to others in front of your friend, they will pick up on your habits. If someone opens a door for you or helps you with your bag, show them gratitude. Perhaps they are having a bad day and your small words could make it better. If you see an older person who needs help, help him/her. And when you do I guarantee if you use “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir” it will make their day. Maybe they are lonely and just want someone to be nice to them.

Being nice can be like an infectious disease. If you see others doing it and everyone is taking joy in it, you want to join in.

One of the hardest times to be polite is when others are being so rude. Our instinct seems to be to immediately snap back. I have done it…we all have. It is very hard to hold our tongue. But, there is this old saying “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. That means that if we are sweet and kind, we can win people over much easier than if we are sour and rude. So, the next time someone says something mean, say something nice. It may make their mood better too!

It is relatively easy to implement these changes. Start small. Since this is November and Thanksgiving is this month, start with “thank you.” Anytime you have the opportunity to thank someone, take it. Every month implement another polite word into your vocabulary. Before you know it, the words of hate and anger and impatience (and all the feelings that go along with them) will have no room anymore.

By Sarah J. Ancheta


  1. Something I had to keep in mind when dealing with irrate or inconsiderate customers, when I use to work in Customer Service, was that they usually aren’t upset with you. They might be having some type of terrible stress in their life and they lash out at you. I remember one man in particular, who I thought was upset with me for some reason. I said, “Is everything ok, you seem as though something is bothering you”.
    He proceeded to tell me all that was going on his life, which I can’t recall, but the point is, the person may not be upset with you but rather dealing with the circumstances in their life.
    Sarah, you are absolutely right when you say to offer a kind word. You might be all they need that day to soften their heart. I try to ask people first how they are doing, before I assume the worst. Of course, there are those people who won’t warm up, but I have found that most of them will. Most of them appologize for acting so rude.

  2. Tirza Latupeirissa says

    a very nice article. im currently working to accomplish my thesis about showing gratitude and this article has helped me alott..
    thanks Sarah! GOD BLESS

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