Self

4 Words That Instantly Make You Seem More Polite

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock
two women chatting with each other

It can be the smallest of gestures, the simplest of phrases, and the quietest of actions that make us think that the person we're having a conversation with is truly connecting with us.

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In 2014, Paul Ford, a writer, and programmer shared a piece about one of his polite person's tricks on how to be polite, which he swears has never failed him.

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When you're at a party or event and find yourself in a conversation with someone you don't know well or even at all, try and see how long you can hold off talking about what they do for a living.

Ask plenty of questions and let the other person do most of the talking.

After you've exhausted all other getting-to-know-you party topics, such as how they know everyone at the party or what they're drinking, ask the person you're chatting with what they do for a living.

But right after they tell you, say, "Wow, that sounds hard."

Almost everybody thinks their job is hard, and when someone acknowledges that it sounds difficult, you feel validated. Humans respond to empathy and it helps forge connections between people.

Ford explains, "I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me, she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson."

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And Ford even is raising his son with the same politeness. He said that his son, Abraham, who was two years old at the time, was at the playground with his mother.

She said Abraham went up to a woman who was wearing a hijab and he asked her, "What's your name?" She said her name.

Then, he held out his hand and said, "Nice to meet you!" and gave her the firmest handshake a 2-year-old could give, just like his dad taught him.

Ford is raising his child to show empathy and politeness to everyone. We need a little more of that in our world right now, huh?

Empathy is known as social glue, as it helps bind people together and creates harmonious relationships. And when you're polite, you show regard for others in manner, speech, and behavior.

Asking questions, showing interest, and being empathetic, makes dealing with you pleasant and enjoyable and help to create a relationship.

So, the next time you're at a party, ask about someone's job and then recognize how tough it must be. You'll be surprised at how much better people will respond to you socially.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.

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