A to Z of people skills – Politeness

September 7th, 2012

Some time ago, I posed the question Can a person be too polite? and talked about the difference between politeness and passive, or non-assertive, behaviour. There seems to be a struggle for some between being assertive AND polite.

So, revisiting the topic a little, I think it’s polite to decline and say No thanks, whereas it is not assertive to ignore the request as you don’t want to be rude by saying No. Disagreements happen at work; difficult issues need to be dealt with; all of them can be done by being polite and respectful to others.

Like other aspects of assertiveness and confident behaviour, politeness starts with a mindset. Changing one’s mindset is difficult and is often the result of seeing something new and different and sometimes, learning new skills and behaviours and getting new results yourself. A former colleague – polite and good to deal with, not very forthcoming, not willing to ask her boss for information or question what was going on – on asking her boss for something, was asked if she’d been on “one of those [assertiveness] courses”; she said Yes; he said “Good, I’m fed up with you pussy-footing around”. Her politeness was over-shadowed by her passive behaviour – not any more. She’s still polite and good to deal with and is assertive, helpful, professional as well.

Are you as polite as you could be? Or are you over-compensating for a pushy colleague?



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