Love, Life Stories

Is polite speech really worth it?

You’re not a bad person if the words “let’s meet up again” slip out of your mouth when you actually have no intention of engaging with the person any time soon.

Picture this: You meet someone for the first time and you say, “It was nice meeting you!” Or you see an acquaintance of yours and enthusiastically ask, “How are you?” Or how about this one: you spend a few hours with someone you just met and say, “Let’s keep in touch!” and proceed to exchange numbers. 

But do we really mean any of these statements we say?

Considering the society we live in today – a world where people are immersed in technology, the economy, and only do good for the sake of gloating about it – does polite speech have any true meaning behind it? Do the phrases we’re automatically programmed to say have any value, or do we simply feel compelled to say them because it’s considered being polite? The sad truth is that the sense of community is lost in the world we live in today. As long as individuals can benefit themselves and prosper, they are satisfied.  What was once a genuine “How are you?” to inquire about someone’s well being has become a cliche, a frivolous question.

[bctt tweet=”Do the phrases we’re automatically programmed to say really have any value?” username=”wearethetempest”]

So why do we continue using such phrases if we don’t actually mean them? If you only ask someone how they’re doing to be polite and you don’t truly care about their health because you only see them so often, doesn’t the expression become valueless? I know it sounds harsh, but think about it -it’s true.

My theory is that people care significantly about first impressions and the way others will proceed to think about them afterwards.First impressions are crucial; they create an image we want people to remember of us. Of course, we don’t want to come off as rude. However, these “first impressions” tend to be fabricated because we’re trying so hard to be as “perfect” and polite as possible.

Even after making a good first impression, we continue to be polite because we don’t want to be judged. You’re not a bad person if the words “let’s meet up again” slip out of your mouth when you actually have no intention of engaging with the person any time soon. It’s unfortunately become second nature to us. 

[bctt tweet=”People care significantly about first impressions and the way others will think about them afterwards.” username=”wearethetempest”]

One of my favorite personal experiences that support the loss of meaning behind polite speech has to do with a close friend of mine whom I encountered on a daily basis but not once asked me how I was doing in five entire months. This friend of mine is one of the most genuine people I know. He never fabricates or sugar coats anything and if it something rude, he will refrain from saying it rather than being polite. So after five whole months, on a day I seemed quite tense, he approached me and asked, “How are you?” I wasn’t hurt that he hadn’t inquired about how I was doing every single day like other people. I wasn’t angry that he asked me after such a long time, because I knew that this time, he meant what he was saying. His “how are you’s” and “I enjoyed talking to you’s” were not meaningless, but expressed utmost authenticity because they came from a place of genuine concern.

[bctt tweet=”I am not discouraging you from being polite.” username=”wearethetempest”]

To say he didn’t care about me everyday sounds ruthless. But why should he ask and create a false persona as we all do if he actually didn’t care? It’s something we are all guilty of. And so I appreciated his “how are you” more than the others I had received that day. In that moment, I realized how overused polite speech is and the way it’s utilization has transformed over the years.

I am not discouraging you from being polite. In fact, it’s necessary. It’s necessary to maintain the peace in the cruel, heartless world we live in today. There are, of course, many exceptions: people who genuinely care for others, people who desire to reunite with others after their first meeting. These people are the only hope we have left in this world, and perhaps the reason why there is still some good left in this world today.

  • Zereen Ahmed

    Zereen Amy Ahmed is your not-so-typical born and raised SoCal girl who is currently having an affair with writing. From journalism to poetry to fictional stories, Writing has always been by Zereen's side, permitting her to express what she feels strongly about. With her fondness of the English language, she aspires to become an awesome possum blossom high school English teacher when she is older, hoping to share her love for the subject and encourage students to discover the true beauty the subject withholds. She has a passion for fashion, enthusiasm for English, interest in anything artistic & creative, love for family and friends, and admiration for those who inspire her. Her goal is to use her passion for writing to spark interest, influence, and inspire those around her.