The Sick of Social Impolite

Another online post hurling words of rudeness.

Feverishly social listeners try to respond quickly to maintain the brand image of their business and move irate customers offline. Personal conversations however are less likely for recovery. These spontaneous posts have little construction to them, typed on the spur of the moment. Statements are made about whatever comes to mind first with very little thought put to them other than what is said. What may be intended as sarcastic humor can be rude, negative, and even hateful. Little consideration is given to who is it written for. To say anything without regard for others is our right as freedom of speech, isn’t it? Or is it.

As part of successful communication a degree of respect must exist between two parties and a desire to minimize conflict in order to communicate. To achieve this, you must practice being polite. This is the case whether online or in person. Over the last 25 years there has been an increase in rudeness by approximately 75% (Statistica 2019). Online rudeness has steadily increased with more people using the Internet.

When a person you are communicating with in-person is in front of you, their facial expression can indicate how your message is received. A polite person will look for these indicators as they communicate and react accordingly. Human nature causes most people to recognize the effects of an insult and stop. Most even respond with an apology. This is not the case online. Candid responses are posted not to individuals but to avatars with the ability to text responses. Unless someone responds back, you have no idea how a post may have affected them, and it may not be real. Online posts can essentially be spontaneous real thoughts, which are posted with little regard for who is reading it. Posts can take their toll on the recipient.

Trolling and cyberbullying are extreme cases of impoliteness which are common on the Internet. Trolling is when someone posts inflammatory remarks to start an argument which results in a long tirade of heated, opinionated responses. These can easily get out of control and if not moderated can be soapbox platforms of spiraled negativity. Cyberbullying can be defined as deliberate harm directed at a person to haze them with hate remarks and threats. There are laws against cyberbullying, as well as libel and slander which result in the defamation of reputation and character of an individual.

Another reason for an increase in impoliteness online is the standard for civility has changed significantly. If rudeness is not corrected as wrong, it becomes the standard. Posting positive messages is one way to encourage politeness online as the new standard.

Putting thought into what is posted whether it is text, photos, memes, videos or any other media shared is wise. It is a reflection of yourself regardless of whether it reaches one person or many. Electronic communication can reach thousands of people within seconds. Once it is sent, sometimes it is not able to be reversed. Consider if what you are sending is appropriate before you hit send.

Help recover politeness by being socially polite online.


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Business Matters

No one knows the experience of a service or product better than the buyer who just purchased. Today it is common to allow the customer the option to fill out a follow-up survey after a purchase. Business may offer an incentive to customers if they provide feedback. While businesses receive all kinds of feedback, negative feedback can be the most valuable to a business. Rather than seeing this as an attack, they can use this information to improve their business. It can bring to the forefront problems they were unaware of that need to be addressed which can identify destructive factors or help increase revenue.

Customer feedback is shared online, through email, telephone, and on forums. It is important to respond to feedback and especially negative feedback as soon as possible. Customers need to know they are heard. Generally, those customers who are submitting feedback ‘offstage’, through email or phone, are seeking the chance to vent, are searching for answers, and want resolution. Those submitting comments ‘on-stage’ are wanting to also be heard, but are looking for an audience to share their complaint publicly to. Responding with a short reply of empathy and assurance followed by an offer to further discuss by phone, is the best way to handle onstage communicators. By taking these public posts offline with a phone call, businesses can further address an issue and handle concerns.

While most corporate level representatives provide customer service placing value on the customer, such is not the case in many retail environments. Retail employees have brought the culture of ‘me-ism’ to the workspace. Rather than fostering a basic level of respect, gossip spreading about customers and insults to customers are common. Bending over for the customer is unheard of most of the time. Repeat customers who should be valued are shunned with propaganda fed in by people outside the business. If approached about this, associates deny what was just said. Ethics standards are not upheld by managers. The employees stay employed with very little correction.

One has to think what is really being marketed. Why do customers not see this as tarnish to the reputation of the business doing this? Who would want to continue to shop at a store where employees are rumor and gossip hounds trying to gain popularity for their store by damaging the reputation of someone? This should be discouraged. It adds to the digression of our culture, affects business standards, besides just not being kind. Are there really this many ill-informed minds in retail? Yes. Without correcting it, it will worsen. The best solution is to fire these types and have stronger management.

If management is unethical and allows unethical practices, the business will be unethical in all kinds of matters. It may yield short term success, but is guaranteed failure over time. It is overdue that corporate gets involved in cleaning up the politeness and respectfulness in stores by enforcing it. Without valued customers, the business would not exist. Although retail stores may not offer the big bucks, most pay high enough to expect politeness and appropriateness from employees. After all, it is a job, not an inconvenience to the employee to be employed and receive a check.

If retail employees may be bored and feel the need to gossip, then give them more work. If they are angry at their position, then reiterate that this is what they agreed to, or the door. Managers need to be more firm with employees who are destructing their front line. There are plenty of people ready to replace them. By hiring more polite, trained, part-time employees as backup to replace them, quality can exist and the trash taken out. Regardless, clean up is needed. There is a lack of accountability that exists from keeping employees who are impolite and damaging to the business. Training programs on customers service are built into many businesses, but if they aren’t enforced, they are useless. Being able to hire employees who truly believe in the value of customer service, is hard to accurately screen for, but managers should be able to identify if an employee is using their position in a damaging way. Those who place business matters first, are of value to the company and help build business with happy customers.

This applies to those in corporate environments as well. There is a need to enforce a greater level of respect in any workplace. A culture of kindness and respectfulness breeds a positive work environment, higher productivity, and business success. Letting rudeness become the standard should be frowned upon. It is everyone’s business to clean this up, not necessarily all the time through verbal correction, but through example. Each person is in essence their own business too. If we all maintained our business at a higher standard, what a better place it would be for everyone.

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Play Nice: Playground Rules for Respect in the Workplace (The Sandbox)
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Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace
by Christine Porath

The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace
by Ron Friedman PhD

Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance
by W. Gibb Dyer Jr., Jeffrey H. Dyer, et al.

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Rolling Out Rude. Rebutting Rudeness.

Flippant comments, rude gestures and actions, mudslinging, and other communication that can’t be humanely understood. Rudeness diminishes and demeans. It devalues the other person through intimidation, threatens, and humiliates. A person is unconsciously seeking control over another person by being rude. Instead of the ‘namaste’ of each person bowing to another person with dignity and respect, one person must ‘conquer’ over the other by making an impolite statement. 

Everyone encounters impoliteness throughout the day. It almost inevitable if people are going to interact with each other. We all have different personalities, backgrounds, and issues which affect our mood. Some people are more adept at controlling reactions and responses more than others. These words which spew out thoughtlessly, or in some cases, intentionally, can be very hurtful to the other party. In today’s culture, it has become acceptable to say whatever is on our mind, whereas in the past the social expectation was to uphold a higher standard of politeness. At a minimum you were expected to be cordial, but impolite rude statements were unthinkable. What we allow is what we make the culture of today and the future to be. Understanding rudeness and how to counter it makes for more civilized society.

There are two kinds of rudeness: focused rudeness and unfocused rudeness. Focused rudeness is rudeness which is targeted at another person and is mean-spirited. There is a deliberate intent of insulting another person and causing a loss for them. Examples of this can be interrupting, gossiping, or controlling a situation to create disadvantage. Unfocused rudeness is usually self-centered, lack of consideration for others such as talking loudly on a cell phone, taking up too much space when space is limited, or cutting in front of line. It is taking liberties without the consideration of the next person. Of course by human nature we are inclined to occasionally make thoughtless and unkind statements or do things which are inconsiderate. While these are impolite, usually they are corrected quickly by those with well-formed consciences, followed by an apology.

There are health effects associated with rudeness. Rudeness can cause unnecessary stress, cardiovascular disease, damage self-esteem, cause mental anguish, emotional problems, lower morale and make daily life and work difficult. Relationships are damaged with rudeness. Over the course of time relationships deteriorate with continual impoliteness which stem from bad manners.

Rudimentary Causes of Rudeness
Rudeness can be a result of internal and external factors. In today’s world, we live in a strangeropolis society. People are perfectly happy being self-absorbed on their cell phones and computers. It is not unusual to not interact with other people for an entire day or even more. People do not care to know other people in person, or even try, because we don’t have to. We are self-sufficient and any information we need can be obtained with technology. However, what technology doesn’t offer as well is the ability to feel the emotion of the person in front of you. Especially when it comes to differences, they are easier to work out in person. Expressions give away hurt feelings, and it is more probable that the rudeness will cease as a result. However, expressions are not 100% foolproof as a means to identify how someone feels. Hurt can be concealed and may silently build up with repeated rudeness.

It is easier to be rude to strangers because we do not really care about them or their lives. It is easier to be polite, if the person is known, as with friends or known acquaintances, because care exists. Human-to-human interactions are an essential part of the human existence. To live as a single is more common than ever before making connecting with people in society even more important. Individuals who live by themselves must connect together in ‘smaller-societies’ whether they are friendships, social groups, or communities. There is a starvation of humanity to be in isolation disconnected from in-person human interactions. We were not put here to connect with others only through our cell phones and computers. When we are in these social circles, we are forced to get along and meld our differences finding compromise or acceptance. It is easier to be polite to those we love and those in front of us, rather than to strangers and people we do not know.

For the cyber-inclined what better refuge than to hide behind the screen of the computer or cell phone. By becoming an avatar or an emoji, we can hide safely and communicate when we want and avoid conversations when we want. There also can be miscommunication in how we might really feel. Video communication may seem that we are instantly connected and are ‘there’ more than ever. However, there is a part of human dignity which is missing from this when it becomes the primary way to communicate. It is a subliminal rudeness when the value of ‘not being there in person’ takes precedent over real-time human presence. There is no replacement for people being face-to-face. Impoliteness is bred when we do not connect in person with people.

Along with communicating via technology, what is acceptable to speak about has metamorphosed. Verbal impoliteness is not being thoughtful with speech. In the past, society had a level of civility which was expected which is lacking today. In many cases, we can speak freely whatever is on our mind, with our opinions at the forefront. What we have to say trumps over any consideration of how it may affect the other person. Culture is much more casual and rudeness has become not just more acceptable, but the standard.

Of course we all have bad days. We have our lives and issues which arise which may cause us to become more easily frustrated with other people and are impolite. How we react is something to be mastered. Some resort to counting before speaking. Others quickly paint situations differently in their mind before responding more positively. Some people are naturally witty and are able to counter impoliteness with humor. Others just blurt out the truth and then tip toe back across the line of being polite again apologizing for their boldness in speech.

A lack of balance can cause rudeness. When a person’s needs are not met, it is fertile ground for impoliteness to sprout. Being sick, tired, or hungry can cause a person to be rude toward others. When we are loved and well nourished, it is much easier to be positive and polite. Being self-centered or being materialistic can also cause rudeness. This can include being too busy for other people, being self-absorbed in work, or viewing self-worth above all others. Rudeness can materialize also, if a person is consumed with materialism. The latest fad becomes more important. Being forgotten and less important, the other individual can become rude. Likewise, insecurities and injustices can cause rudeness because the human worth is not being met with the dignity that is deserved.

Responding to Rudeness
Making a call on intentionally rude people can be a challenging encounter. Depending on the situation, it may be best to say nothing. Silence and curt words can indicate the impoliteness as can expressions. This may be enough to deflate the attention the person is seeking. However, the clearest way to counter impoliteness, is to address it directly and concisely. The impolite person may not realize the effects of what they are saying. Some of the classiest ways to respond to rudeness are with clever, friendly comebacks, but not everyone has this talent. When you are caught off guard and do not know what to say, remember to be polite and gracious in your response. Never feed into the rudeness combating it with rudeness. This will only escalate incivility. Appreciate the fact that the other person is entitled to their own opinion, and acknowledge this, but point out that the rudeness was offensive and hurtful. Keep positive in your response and also optimistic of a positive change from the other person. 

Running from Rudeness
Perhaps you have had a run in with rudeness within your own personality and are interested in being more cultured with kindness and politeness. Jot down situations where you have been less than kind and reflect on how you would respond differently next time. Reflect on how you can make those situations right, if possible, and apologize to the person. Practicing compassion and empathy helps to foster politeness. When you try to understand another person’s situation from their point of view, you’ll find it is next to impossible to be as rude to them. Spend time with people who you have a tendency to be rude to. Get to know them and learn more about them. You may find out you did not have all the information you initially thought. Finally, it is easy to jump on-board with the popularity of gossip. Gossip will form ways of thinking with propaganda of what ‘should’ be believed. You may find yourself aligned with a popularity wave and have no idea how these opinions are rudeness to another or affecting their life. Go the extra mile by giving compliments and spreading a good word about other people to counter digression and foster politeness.

An ‘A’ in Apology
Apologies are gems at restoring relationships and honoring dignity. If you want to be more polite, first start with reflecting on how you may have hurt another person by being rude or insulting them. Then work on mastering sincerity in an apology. The steps to a successful apology are reflection, communication, contrition, and resolution. First reflect on how you were impolite. Communicate to the other person how you can understand of how your rudeness must have affected them. Tell them you are truly sorry with all contriteness, promising not to do it again. Then resolve sincerely to try hard not to do it again.

Rebutting rudeness and rolling in kindness is a call for a higher standard of civilized culture. Rudeness causes hurt feelings at a minimum. Humans find common ground by understanding the experience of another. With empathy, you can relate to what another person may be feeling or the situation they are going through. It is much harder to be rude when you can find care for another person. Interesting enough, the swing of the pendulum can continue to go to yet the other extreme. The Greek philosopher, Aesop once said ‘familiarity breeds contempt or acquaintances softens prejudices’. It is more difficult to be rude to a person who you know. It is easier to be rude to a stranger or someone you don’t understand. With greater familiarity, it becomes easier to take the relationship for granted which can result in the breakdown again of politeness. In all cases, the classiest method is to think of the other before self, stop the mud-slinging of impoliteness, and choose to be polite and kind instead.

—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness
Be Cultured. Be Kind.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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by Danny Wallace (Author, Narrator)