Bitchiness and rudeness often go together and are quite unacceptable for a polite person to practice. They are likely to creep up when you run into someone you don’t like, have a problem with, has a problem with you or who thinks they’re better than you.
In these moments it is easy to stare right through them, give them the cold shoulder, or even worse, say something unkind. What one ought to do in these circumstances is practice etiquette. One should give a word of recognition, and if anything else, a simple, “How are you?”
You might think, Robin, isn’t that being fake? No, it’s not. There is a big difference between being polite and being fake. Being polite is to participate in the bare minimum of civilized social requirements. To completely ignore someone is to abandon all the principles of etiquette we talked about in my last column. (For those of you who missed them they were consideration, honesty and respect.)
By looking right through a person you aren’t considering how that makes them feel and you certainly aren’t being respectful. It’s the concept of honesty that people think is being undermined by saying “hi” to someone they don’t want to greet.
Fortunately, saying hello to someone doesn’t approach the question of whether or not you like said person. Greeting someone you know is the bare minimum of politeness. To pretend to show genuine interest in someone you would really rather not talk to is when one crosses the line into being fake. If you reach a point in a conversation where you are no longer genuinely interested in what a person says, yet you continue to ask questions, you are no longer being honest and are therein being fake. At this point you should tactfully excuse yourself from the conversation.
So, what if you’re on the other end of the conversation (the one who is being spoken to by someone they would rather not)? As unfortunate a situation you are in, if you really don’t want to talk to them you can excuse yourself by politely saying something like, “I’m sorry, I’m really not in the mood for chatting right now,” or “I really have to get going, sorry.” If it is for some reason, beyond you to express such sentiments, the least you can do is answer the questions you feel comfortable with (while making a genuine effort to avoid a bad tone in your voice) and get a move on at the first opportunity.
A person you don’t care for need not read the dislike in your emotions every time they run into you. They may already know that you don’t like them. Even if you disagree with someone (in any way) there is no need to be rude or bitchy about it. A calm, “Tom, I have to disagree with you,” or “Sally, I don’t share your view here,” are sufficient.
It is entirely possible to keep consistency between your manner and honesty; it just takes a little finesse and polish.
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