Hints on Common Politeness | Podcasts About Courtesy

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast – makers of the best selling hardcover book Evergreen: 50 Inspirational Life Lessons. Learn more at InspirationalLifeLessons.com. Today’s reading has been edited and adapted from the book Hints on Common Politeness, D. C. Colesworthy (Daniel Clement), published in 1867.

We have fallen on singular times. Who has any true regard for the rights of their neighbor? Where can a really polite person be found? If we do not actually spit in the faces of our friends, we are, every day of our lives, guilty of numberless thoughtless and uncivil acts that greatly displease and annoy them.

Your own pleasure, convenience, and interest should not be taken into consideration when they conflict with the duties you owe your neighbors and society at large. It is a glorious privilege to sacrifice our own selfish interests, if thereby we can promote the well-being of others, and scatter widely and profusely the blessings of life.

By offering these few hints that follow I hope to contribute to the welfare and happiness of my fellow citizens, and scatter more bountifully the sunshine and warmth that spring from elevated affections and sincere politeness.

It is not polite to fret and scold at the petty annoyances of life.

It is not polite to use harsh language when speaking to another person of their faults, however aggravating you may think they be.

It is not polite to seek opportunities for revenge. To forgive and to forget is the true doctrine.

It is not polite to get unnecessarily excited and angry, whatever the provocation may be.

It is not polite to pass a relative or an acquaintance without acknowledging them.

It is not polite to refuse to accommodate another, when it is in your power, and you can do it without detriment to yourself, and without infringing on the rights of others.

It is not polite to request of another a favor that you would not willingly grant under similar circumstances.

It is not polite to invite persons to your house, when you do not desire to see them.

It is not polite to contradict another, or rudely to question the truth of their remarks. You should speak with moderation, and convince with truthful arguments.

It is not polite to borrow money, a book, or any article, and not return it at the time designated, or to wait until called upon by the owner. Forgetfulness or thoughtlessness is not a justifiable excuse when you retain, a moment longer than the time specified, whatever belongs to someone else.

It is not polite to use pompous or high-sounding words in conversation. The more simple words the better, in which you can convey your meaning and be understood.

It is not polite to notice the defects of nature in others, or to speak, in their presence, of their imperfection.

It is not polite to betray a confidence placed in you, or to obtain one with the intention of using it to someone’s disadvantage.

It is not polite, when two persons are conversing together, for a third person to interfere, and endeavor to call attention to themselves.

It is not polite to break an appointment, or to keep another waiting, even for a moment after the time of meeting has arrived.

It is not polite, on any occasion whatever, to use profane language.

It is not polite to pick your teeth at a table, or in the presence of those with whom you are conversing.

It is not polite to attempt to force others, against their will, to adopt your sentiments, or to coincide with you in your peculiar views.

It is not polite to question others, in idle curiosity, respecting that with which you have no concern.

It is not polite to get angry when in conversation with another.

It is not polite to request someone to do an act, which, even if it is not positively wrong, it may be disagreeable for them to perform.

It is not polite to interrupt another, by attempting to speak before they have finished their sentence.

It is not polite to put shop-keepers to unnecessary trouble in looking over their goods when you have no intention of purchasing, or to coolly remark, as you leave, “We only came to window shop today.”

It is not polite to preach up charity and good will towards others, while you indulge in unchristian feelings towards your fellow citizens.

It is not polite to borrow a book, tool, or any article your neighbor has just bought, when you are just as well able to purchase it for yourself.

It is not polite to recommend yourself for any office of trust, honor, or award.

It is not polite to pick out flaws or petty foibles in the characters of your neighbors, when you are not an angel yourself, and are far from laboring to become such.

It is not polite to utter the ideas of another as your own, and thus attempt to shine in borrowed plumage.

It is not polite to refuse to recognize your obligations to those who have assisted you in any way, or given you any desired information, no matter how trivial it may be.

It is not polite to forget to shut the door in cold weather, when you leave a house or a store, or to stand with the door open while conversing with another.

It is not polite to refuse a present, however trifling, bestowed by a generous heart.

It is not polite to say, “I will do it,” and not perform.

It is not polite to speak disrespectfully to another, more especially if they are older than yourself, or in humbler circumstances.

It is not polite to insist on the attention of another who is busily engaged or to weary them with excess words when they give you a hearing.

It is not polite to laugh at a joke perpetrated at the expense of the feelings of another.

It is not polite to refuse to make a suitable apology, whenever you have inadvertently done anything to injure the feelings of another, or in any way slighted a friend or a neighbor.

It is not polite to hesitate for a moment to forgive a person who makes an apology and tries to make up for an injury they may have done to you.

It is not polite to refuse to take the side of a friend whose character may be attacked in his or her absence.

It is not polite to speak frequently of the talents, the beauty, or the accomplishments of the members of your own family.

It is not polite to be recounting your own deeds of benevolence, your own devotion to truth and integrity.

It is not polite to praise your own book, your own music, your own work, your peculiar talent, whatever it may be.

It is not polite for a purchaser to attempt to beat down the price of an article they are buying.

It is not polite to wear a peculiar dress, or pursue any irregular course for the sake of oddity or notoriety.

It is not polite to allude to the misconduct of a person in the presence of their child or a relative.

It is not polite to pass by a neighbor in trouble, when you can render them assistance.

It is not polite to disturb your neighbors who have retired for the night, by making any noise whatever, or by allowing your dogs to bark.

It is not polite, when visiting neighbors, to bring your children when they are likely to annoy and trouble others.

It is not polite to answer angrily or unkindly one who may have asked, unintentionally or thoughtlessly, an improper question.

It is not polite to scold on any occasion when simply an accident has occurred.

It is not polite to interfere when two people are conversing, no matter if you think either to be in an error.

It is not polite to refuse, or hesitate for a moment, to correct a mistake of your own, even though it be greatly to your disadvantage.

It is not polite to refer to past bad behavior in the presence of one who has sincerely repented for their actions.

It is not polite to appropriate to your own use, without consent, the most trifling thing that belongs to another.

It is not polite to be slovenly in your dress, and careless about your personal appearance.

It is not polite to prolong your visits so as to weary your friends.

It is not polite to question the veracity of another when you are not certain that they are in error.

It is not polite to speak unadvisedly to another, or to thrust your opinion, unsolicited, upon a neighbor.

It is not polite to bore another, who has no interest in the matter, with your own troubles or personal adventures.

It is not polite to repeat your own compositions to those who have no desire to hear them.

It is not polite to enter a merchant’s store and take down their goods to examine, and not return them to their proper places.

It is not polite to give a nickname to another, to shorten their name, or to call them, at any time, by an improper name.

It is not polite to fret and complain about the weather, or with the affairs of Providence in general.

It is not polite to get angry when an accident occurs, even if your property is destroyed, or your person is injured.

It is not polite to preach charity and benevolence to others, while you are mean and miserly in the extreme.

It is not polite to hold up to ridicule the defects in the characters of your neighbors or friends.

It is not polite to destroy the life of any creature, however humble, which does not molest you, or that is not injurious to the community.

It is not polite to make sport of serious matters, or to ridicule those who conscientiously perform religious duties.

It is not polite to force yourself in any place without pay, when you know money is requisite to an admission.

It is not polite to vote for yourself as a candidate for office, or to solicit the votes of your friends.

It is not polite to shun a person who has done you a favor, or to pass them by as if you did not recognize them.

It is not polite to get angry or use insulting words to those who refuse to give you a charitable contribution. Remember, others may not see and feel as you do.

It is not polite to solicit a friend to stand as security for you, and then leave them to settle your own just debt

It is not polite to injure in any way the property of another. A tree should not be cut, a fence marred, or any offensive article be thrown on their premises.

It is not polite to invite a person to visit you, to dine with you, or to lodge with you, unless you really desire it. This kind of deception — uttering words from the mouth which come not from the heart — should never be practiced, so as not to confuse and distress of those who may have deemed you sincere, and taken you at your word. If it is not convenient to receive company, or you do not actually desire it, on no consideration should you extend the invitation.

It is not polite to insist that your friend shall hear your manuscript read, or that you should wear their patience out in repeating a large portion of your recent poem or essay.

It is not polite to suffer a person to ask you several times to pay a debt justly due.

It is not polite to be all things to all people. Always let it be manifest where you stand, and what you are; and do not hesitate, when it is necessary, to express the honest sentiments of your heart.

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All transcripts from our inspirational podcasts are edited adaptations of the original work and copyrighted by LivingHour.org.