Cracking the Code of Courteous Conversation

In a multicultural society it’s important to be aware of your Likability Index. Often it’s difficult to judge whether you have hurt someone’s feelings unless you are aware of what their culture considers rude. For example: for Americans and northern Europeans standing too close to someone is considered rude. It’s also considered bad manners to raise your voice, no matter how passionate you may feel about your subject matter and how right you are.

Consider for example, you are trying to build a team that works well together. Everyone comes from a different background, each background has different rules and standards. Simply educating yourself about the rules of the environment that you find yourself in is not enough. You also have to be able to put the rules into action. Most of us detest confrontation, particularly in a business or volunteer situation. Sometimes we tolerate more than we should. At a certain point we may have to take the issue public.

There is a process for this: First, remind the transgressor that he’s stepping on people’s toes. It may take manifesting “Sending them to Coventry.” This perhaps is a childish way to handle it but it involves silence, noncooperation, and letting the transgressor find out for himself he has merited widespread disapproval.

But this is much like washing your windshield on the outside and failing to take note of the inside. You also have to make sure that the avenues of communication are open that you are sending a clear message without being oppressive, and that the message is being received.

It may happen that the transgressor refuses to see or hear the message. In which case you may have to take the issue up to a higher level of authority and insist that something must be done. But what?

Be generous. View the issue from the other side, and allow the transgressor to save face. Sometimes the lesson must be repeated time and again. Think of a dog who wets the carpet repeatedly. You have to show him this is not acceptable behavior and show patience.

But when your patience is exhausted, and the transgressor refuses to change, what then?

Have some alternatives worked out that remove the transgressor from a position of power and influence. It’s time we added courtesy and respect back into our national conversations. Perhaps then, and only then, can we make some progress in our national discourse.

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About helenscribe

Helen is a long-time writer, with experience in both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest fiction, an English cozy mystery "The Domino Deaths" is available on Amazon. She is also an amateur painter and sailor.
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