Monday, May 24, 2010

Rudeness in the Guise of Politeness

If you have to start a sentence with "don't take this the wrong way but..." or "I don't mean to be rude but..." or "with all due respect..." or "I"m not trying to be mean or nasty..." stop right there because what comes next will be taken the wrong way, rude, disrespectful, and/or mean and nasty. It amazes me how many people use those lines as a free pass to say whatever they want because they prefaced it with that.

The other day J and I were headed to a friend's son's birthday party and we realized we had forgotten the birthday card so we stopped at the grocery store. To save time J pulled up in front of the entrance to drop me off so I could run in then he drove around and came back to pick me up. Now our car was in front of the entrance for a minute dropping me off and a minute picking me up. I admit we were blocking the entrance a bit but only for a minute and you could still easily get in to the store. As we're leaving this woman stops and rolls down her window, J figures she needs directions or something so he rolls down his window. She says "I'm not trying to be mean or nasty or anything could have moved your car down so that you weren't blocking the entrance instead of stopping right there. Because I had to walk around your car to get out." J looked at her a little stunned and politely said "have a nice day." We were just surprised that she felt the need to say anything. And the fact that she prefaced it with "I'm not trying to mean or nasty..." tells me that she did mean to be mean or nasty about the fact. We shrugged it off and went about our day but it got me thinking about other people I know who use similar lines before saying something hurtful.

I will fully admit I've said some not nice things in my day. But usually I'm blatantly honest which is a don't ask me a question you don't want an honest answer may not like it. I think part of it is the fact that society says you can say whatever you want to is so important it is an amendment. I agree you should have freedom of speech. However, just as the saying goes...the freedom of speech doesn't give you the right to walk into a crowded theater and yell fire if there isn't one. And I think that the freedom of speech does give you the right to say whatever you want but I don't think that means you don't have filters.

My Granny used to say..."think before you speak because you can't take it back."

Do you ever encounter people who preface something mean with..."don't take this the wrong way but..." or "I don't mean to be rude but..." or "with all due respect..." or "I"m not trying to be mean or nasty..."? And does it really make what comes next any better?