Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being polite

Your mom has explained the need for good manners: to avoid making another person feel bad. Well, your date may not be going as well as you wanted, but now is not the time to abandon all those skills that your parents spent a lifetime drilling into you. The basics of being polite include the following:
  • Stay put. No leaving out the back door, faking a headache, or spending the entire date in the restroom reading phone numbers carved into the wall.
  • Have a conversation. Sitting stone-faced is the ultimate slap in the face. Find something to talk about even if you discover you two are worlds apart. Seen any good movies lately?
  • Maintain eye contact. You don’t need to gaze into your date’s eyes, certainly, but staring up at the ceiling is rude.
  • Listen. Your date may not notice that things aren’t going swimmingly. Tuning this person out will only cause him or her to try harder to reach you, and panic isn’t pretty.
  • Make nice. As Elvis said, “Don’t be cruel.” Your date didn’t kidnap you. If things aren’t going well, so be it. Without being overly encouraging (you don’t want a bad date hoping for bad date number two), be civil and kind.
  • See your date home. It’s impolite to abruptly end your date the moment the check is paid, the ending credits roll, or the coffee cup is empty. You don’t need to prolong it, but you do need to finish what you both started. If you drove, drive your date home. If your date drove, accept a ride home.
Share a cab, a subway, a bus ride. No bolting or escaping is necessary. Behave as you’d like to be treated. Show common courtesy. Smile, laugh at jokes, and avoid rolling your eyes to the back of your head. The goal here is to be kind without being dishonest. The key to being polite is to think of yourself as Lord or Lady Bountiful —much too well-bred to let on that your bunions pinch or your fine sense of smell has just discerned that something has died. The goal of being polite is not to lead your date on, but to treat your date with the same kindness and respect with which you’d treat anyone.

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