The story is told of two polite people who were having dinner together. On the table, there was a dish with one big piece of fish and one small piece of fish. They politely say to each other: “You may choose first.” “No, you may choose first.” This goes on for a while.
Then the first person says: “OK, I’ll take first.” And he takes the BIG piece of fish.
The second person instantly commented: “That’s not polite! You should not have taken the big piece”
The first retorted: “Which piece would you have taken?”
The second person replied: “Why? I would have taken the small piece, of course.”
The first person then snapped: “Well, that’s what you have now!”

The story is illustrative of the irony of being polite. While we consider ourselves to be polite, in reality, we fall short of being polite when the situation on hand is not conducive to being polite. We often fail in being polite when it is most demanded of us.

 

Some might say that politeness is a “small” thing, and it is, but that doesn’t mean it is insignificant. Politeness is a lot like salt – you don’t always pay attention to it when it is present, but it is very obvious that something is lacking when it is absent.

 

Being polite in the right situation and to the right person is perhaps an easy behaviour to exhibit. However, being polite to those who are curt and will not reciprocate our politeness is the challenge. Yet, imbibing the quality of being polite to all and at all times, besides being a noble virtue, contributes greatly to the success of an individual. Studies conducted on the behavioural patterns of successful people have established a definite link between success and an attitude of politeness.

 

So, that’s how politeness works. Suppose both guys argue and fight for big fish, then nobody would be settled in harmony. But, with the politeness, the first person convinced the second person so easily. When we used to be polite, then we can think about and convince people.

 

Being polite is also a basic spiritual principle. When one is polite, he lays the foundation for good relationships and lasting friendships. St Paul in his many letters to various groups of people he addressed has written much about the significance of being polite to one another. In his letter to the Ephesians for instance, he has written lucidly, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). And again in his letter to Titus, he has instructed, “Remind the believers to … be ready to do good, to speak no evil about anyone, to live in peace, and to be gentle and polite to all people” (Titus 3:1-2)

 

We should be most polite because politeness is a characteristic of agape love. Being polite means being aware of and respecting the feelings of other people. Make an effort today to see that the love you show to others around you includes the quality of politeness.