ON BEING DISAGREEABLE

It’s a real thing and it’s a TV thing. It’s a local thing. It’s international, too.

People are rude. Not argumentative and contentious. They are also that, especially in the heat of battle, so to speak. It goes beyond that. They are rude because it seems that politeness, civility, and simple good manners are currently out-of-fashion. Saying please — and sounding like you mean it — and thank you (and really meaning it) are missing-in-action.

You see it on TV shows a lot.

Scenario 1: The reporter is interviewing a subject. Instead of asking questions, he’s acting as if he’s a cop with a guilty perp. He’s interrogating his subject. He won’t let him fully answer the question before he fires off another shot across the bow. Why?

Garry got great interviews by asking questions politely, then waiting for the answer. Listening to what the interviewee said … and then following up with relevant questions. Especially if you’re dealing with people you will have to get interviews from regularly — the mayor, the police chief, judges, politicians — what’s the point of antagonizing them? You get more from people who like you than people who want to throttle you.

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Scenario 2: The cop is asking people if they’ve seen a person and holds up a picture. (Alternate scenario, cop stops driver and asks the ritual question “Sir/Madam, do you know how fast you were going?”) The kid, guy, gal, whoever — and I’ve seen this in as many shows originating in the U.K. as in U.S. versions — snarls something nasty and surly.

Okay. I get that you don’t like police, but why rile up the man with the gun and badge? Now he’s going to take a much harder look at you. You don’t really want that, so if you don’t want to coöperate, why not be civil anyhow? It could save you a ticket. Or a bullet. Rudeness is always counter-productive.

You see it in everyday. You ask the person packing your bags at the supermarket to please not put the bread (or eggs) under the heavy stuff because squashed bread is hard to use for sandwiches. They sneer at you like you’re some kind of senile old bat. Bet they wouldn’t feel that way if it was their bread arriving home flattened and useless.

Half of the world’s problems would disappear overnight if everyone would be nice. Sounds simplistic, I know but there are plenty of horrendous life-and-death issues to grapple with. Saying “please” and “thank you” while omitting the sarcasm might go quite a way towards lowering the temperature of our over-heated world.

Manners are free, you know? Civility doesn’t cost a single penny. They would not increase the national debt or require more taxation. Being nice, kind, thoughtful, and polite to others doesn’t make you a sissy. It makes you a citizen. A good one.

I’m absolutely sure being disagreeable, snarky, nasty, and sarcastic never improved a relationship or a situation. And best of all, being polite, being nice feels good.

DISAGREE | THE DAILY POST

18 thoughts on “ON BEING DISAGREEABLE

  1. People often ask me why/how I get better service than they do. I tell them, “A little politeness goes a long way.” Treat people like people and not like servants and they’re more than happy to got the extra distance for you. Worked for me when I worked retail and it works in my favor when working with people everywhere.

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    • There’s a time for tough talk … but most of the time, a smile, a please, a thank you gets you a lot farther. I don’t know when or why this seems to have been forgotten. Civility is the grease on society’s squeaky wheel.

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  2. I do not find this often in Switzerland. Walking through our village and the kids are coming out of school, or you might otherwise see them; you do not know every one of them but they always greet you, it is custom and you educate your kids to greet. I am helped a lot from perfect strangers since walking with an obvious impediment. We do not have people employed in the supermarkets to pack our bags, so that is not a problem. It would only happen perhaps at Christmas when the shops are packed and busy, otherwise never. I did not notice this happening when I was in London, although they are just certain “elements” that you know it is better to avoid. No, generally I do not find it so bad.
    TV interviews can get rude, but I often find this with particular interviewers who want to trap their customers with being clever in their usage of questions, always repeating the same thing over and over again to be ahead all the time. It is so transparent, that they look just plain silly to me. Although I am sure there are some viewers who do not see through this new way of journalism – I do.

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    • Half the time, rude people don’t seem to know they are being rude. Either no one taught them manners, or the people they know are rude too and they are just following their example. It’s not as bad in a small town as it is in bigger cities. Small towns have a way of subduing bad behavior. Everyone knows everyone else, so people are a bit more careful. But it still happens and I’m pretty sure that they really, truly don’t get it. I think we can blame the families and schools for this one. If you don’t demand manners, you won’t get them.

      As for reporters, good reporters don’t need to “trap” the people they are interviewing. There are an awful lot of untrained people calling themselves journalists all over the place these days. Not only are they overly aggressive and impolite, they also ask really stupid questions. The classic example is asking the victim of some tragedy “How do you feel?” I’m surprised more reporters don’t get punched in the jaw for that one. How do they THINK they feel?

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  3. I think a lot of manners is just common sense — treating people as you’d like to be treated. If common sense and manners were applied, I also think it would go a long way towards solving the problem of police shootings (I know it’s dreaming to think that people doing bad things will then be nice to the cops who stop them, but the cops could often adjust their approach).

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    • Back to ye olde golden rule — which shows up in some version in virtually every religious framework. It’s the bottom line for getting along with others. The Jewish version is “do not do to other people what you would not want them to do to you.” You would think this would be obvious. Obviously, it’s NOT obvious. I think the world is suffering from an epidemic of stupid accompanied by insensitive.

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  4. I was in a small mall that had a bookstore. A lot of remaindered books were outside the main store under the eaves, so I started up the steps to get a better look, turned, and there was a terrific looking guy barreling toward me, up the steps. He yanked open the door and ushered me in. ‘Why, thank you,” I said, and entered. Waited until he was well out of sight, then went back out to finish my perusing. =) No egos were damaged and we both felt better for the exchange.

    I don’t watch those speculative fiction events on CNN that pass for analysis. They always end up with two throaty females (the drama queens of the Net) shouting at each other. sigh. Rude doesnt begin to cover those two asshats.

    Rude and sloppy. let’s not forget that. I see younger women in public positions (as in, clerks in business offices) dressed in crop tops, tats all over their visible body parts, braless, orange and purple hair, nose rings, and attitude. my god, attitude.

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    • Rude. Ignorant. Mean-spirited. And often stupid. For an old news guy like Garry, it’s appalling. I’m hoping it’s a trend that will reverse itself and go the other way.Soon, please. Because the world is a better place to be when people don’t act like assholes.

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  5. One of the reasons I don’t watch a lot of the new TV shows is that they seem to be full of rude, disagreeable people. Selfishness is another disagreeable quality that seems to be shown more often too. People push past you and don’t even seem to notice. I was nearly run down by a man with a baby carriage recently. I just stopped in time.He said “Sorry, I didn’t see you.” but I didn’t feel as if he meant it. I don’t know why we stopped caring about good manners and politeness but I miss it.

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    • I’m not sure why things have come to this pass. It isn’t just here, either. It really IS an international phenom. Someone told someone else that manners are for sissies or are a sign of bourgeois decadence or some such twaddle. No one, apparently, explained to the younger generations that good manners make for a better world. For everyone, young and old. My son still interacts a lot with the public and sometimes, they are so breathtakingly rude he finds it hard to do his job. For one thing, they make assumptions. If he pumps their gas, it doesn’t occur to him that he might be literate (or even a person!). Or for that matter, the boss. The assume anyone pumping gas is too low a creature to waste a “please” or a “thank you” on.

      From the other side, kids who are doing what they see as temporary jobs until they can get their REAL career underway see no reason to be nice to anyone because they are embarrassed to be doing lowly work — so they do the job with neither pride nor competence. Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan … and sometimes, the people you treat badly when young remember when you are older. They are not always in a mood to forgive and forget.

      Karma really can be a nasty bitch.

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      • I have often had the impression that in the USA minimum wage workers are considered as an underclass. I’m sure that’s true in other places too including Australia but I think that the tipping culture you have there makes it more obvious. Most of my working life was spent as a cleaner of some type but I was very fortunate that whether I was working on trains or in hotels I encountered few rude people and was rarely made to feel that I was not the equal of the people I was cleaning up after. I certainly considered myself to be as good as any of them. After all until we are all replaced by robots someone has to clean toilets, make beds, pump gas and all those other menial jobs that would soon be missed if nobody did them.

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        • The people who clean, the people who collect the trash, the people maintain stuff that we need to keep our world running … and the people who teach our children are all greatly undervalued. They do the hardest jobs and often for the fewest rewards. I wonder how long this society would last without the service people who keep it running? Not long, I think.

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  6. My wife and I have completed abandoned one of our popular News Channels over here in the UK because the presenters will constantly interrupt the people they are interviewing.
    I read an interesting observation recently that many people have lost the ability to have an argument – they just shout at each other. It all seems to fit with the way politics seems to be getting more polarized – left wing, right wing. Whatever happened to the centre ground to which so many of us naturally belong?

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    • I don’t know. There was a middle even a few years ago, but somehow, it got swallowed by too many people yelling at each other.

      I hate interviewers who won’t let their subjects finish their thoughts. It’s not only rude, it makes the entire interview pointless. If you do all the talking, why bother to interview someone? Just talk.

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