1.14.2009

Politeness and Competence

In revising my Interpersonal Messages text for the 2nd edition, I'm integrating politeness as a basic theme of effective interpersonal communication. And so, I thought I'd post the various sections each week for those who also see politeness as a crucial interpersonal skill. I'd sure be interested in your reactions to these inclusions--positive or negative.

This first brief section is from Chapter 1 and simply places politeness as an essential ingredient of interpersonal competence.

Competence and Politeness

Politeness may be defined as civility, courteousness, refinement, respect, and consideration for others. Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once noted that “politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.” When you engage in polite interaction, you follow the rules for accepted interpersonal interaction and adhere to the social standards of behavior. It is the opposite of rudeness or dissing (a word coined from disrespect). Politeness will not guarantee your interpersonal effectiveness, but impoliteness is likely to guarantee ineffectiveness. Consequently, it’s necessary to understand the rules for politeness in a wide variety of interpersonal situations.
Because of the importance of politeness to all forms of interpersonal communication, it is covered in each chapter where we discuss, for example, politeness at work, nonverbal politeness, relationship politeness, and politeness in conflict management. Understanding and mastering the rules of politeness will enable you to present yourself positively, comfortably, and in control. It will enable you to make a more effective first impression, which, as you’ll see later (Chapter 3, pp. xx-xx), influences your future interactions and is highly resistant to change.

1 comment:

Zoe said...

I think this is awesome. I'm looking forward to reading more. BTW, I just started training for a tax prep franchise in a position where we are the first "face" the customer sees. Politeness is very pertinent, especially when a client is waiting for service. Seems like politeness makes the social world run more smoothly.