The opposite of polite

Being polite at work always involves suppressing something.

Politeness is doing what’s considered reasonable and appropriate rather than talking about what’s true.

Politeness calls on us to say what will be acceptable rather than what will help.

Politeness has us be liked (although in a shallow way) rather than be trusted.

When politeness dominates we force our concerns underground, hiding them from the light, and from each another. There in the dark where they cannot be acted upon directly our difficulties fester, becoming resignation and resentment. Many a polite organisational culture – in which people are outwardly friendly – masks a deep vein of frustration and despair that can find no useful expression.

The opposite of politeness is not cruelty, or unkindness, or wilful injury to others – unless in your pursuit of truth you also abandon your capacity for compassion.

No, the opposite of politeness is – perhaps surprisingly – respect. Respect for oneself, respect for others, respect for action that matters, and respect for the important work that you are here to do.

Photo Credit: +Mongol via Compfight cc

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