Social Question

Mariah's avatar

At what point does politeness begin to indicate a lack of self-respect? At what point does self-respect become selfishness?

Asked by Mariah (25883points) October 6th, 2011

Of course it’s always good to be polite. But if you observed that someone was always apologizing about every little thing, for example, do you think that would be an indication of low self-esteem? Where does politeness cross the line into low self-esteem?

Conversely, self-respect is vital to a person’s happiness. But at what point does refusing to take shit from anybody become selfish? Should friends be willing to tolerate a little shit here and there from each other?

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11 Answers

tom_g's avatar

Good question. I suppose it depends on what you mean by “polite”. I like to think of politeness as closely tied to sincerity. I don’t find it polite when people apologize for things they needn’t apologize for. It stinks of insincerity and it pisses me off.

@Mariah: “Conversely, self-respect is vital to a person’s happiness. But at what point does refusing to take shit from anybody become selfish?”

I do not interpret the refusal to take shit from people as a selfish act. If my friend comes to me – this has happened – and told me that he feels I am judging him too much etc, I welcome such information. “Listen, Tom, you arrogant fuck. I am not going to continue to listen to _______…” We’re better friends for it. I respect him more, and he also forced me to investigate my own actions and intentions, which actually resulted in improvements in me. I feel better. He feels better. The friendship is better. Nobody is getting shit on.

@Mariah: “Should friends be willing to tolerate a little shit here and there from each other?”

Maybe. It all depends on the “shit” I suppose. I find that many people I know tend to judge the closest people in their lives more harshly than those they supposedly do not like. Many people also have a tendency to take their friends for granted.

So, my answer == polite can mean being brutally honest with someone. Therefore, there is no problems with self-respect or low self-esteem. The things that a good friend should expect from you are the qualities that best allow you to thrive.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t see always apologizing as politeness. It is much more about the person doing the apologizing and is almost always a sign of poor self-esteem.

Self-respect does not have to go over the edge into arrogance.

Jellie's avatar

I wish I could learn. I’m polite to people until I realize they are taking advantage of my polite and trusting nature. Then I feel very depressed.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When you care more about propriety than what’s right or what’s right on your behalf. It’s sad.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I think I don’t give a s*** what anyone thinks of pretty much anything I say or do at this point in my life. If I apologized, I meant it, I probably did something I actually felt sorry for, and I wanted to do it otherwise I wouldn’t have.

Respectfully and quite frankly, it is a form of passive aggressiveness when people take it upon themseves to sit and scrutanize everything that everyone else does where there is no personal concern in it for them to do so; as in the case of a relative or a child that needed help with that.

So Mariah honey, if ANYONE makes you feel that way please… Politely, and in the most politically correct way you can manage… tell them to go piss up a rope.

Yes… Friends should be able to do that, but quite honestly, some people just say it because they were raised to say it and internally, they really couldn’t give a shit what you think. It is a game-over kind of word. If I apologize… you shut the hell up.

That’s the way it works.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, over apologizing can be from low self esteem, it is also part of many females conditioning, depending on ones generation. I am always telling strange woman that profusely apologize in public, for something as silly as needing to pass in the grocery isle, that ” no apology needed!” Sheesh!

As far as “selfishness” in relationships, friendships, there is nothing selfish about having standards of conduct and boundaries which help preserve the health of the relationship.

Putting up with shit…nope, not if the “shit” involves lying, manipulations, or otherwise crappy behaviors, what kind of “friend” plays those games?

I EXPECT the SAME treatment towards myself that I give to others, and there is nothing selfish about that.

I have zero tolerance for mind games and manipulations, and I swiftly cull anyone that shows me signs of those behaviors.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Coloma As always… You say it with far more grace than I have… *I’m in a bit of an ornary mood this afternoon…


koanhead's avatar

Keep in mind, also, that folks from different cultures will have a different idea of “politeness” even if they are born and raised in the States or some other notoriously rude “society”. (Just kidding about that last bit, US is only considered rude because I skew the average.)

As far as how to go in “taking shit” from your friends, that’s something you have to decide for yourself and may then have to work out between the two of you. It’s largely a matter of your own taste, though you may find that your taste must bend a bit to accomodate someone else’s if you want to be friends with them.

Coloma's avatar


I agree, however, quirks are not character flaws.
Anyone that lies, cheats, decieves, manipulates more than ONCE, for any reason, and without true remorse, is toast.
If more people held themselves and others to a high standard of integrity it’d be a better world, doubtless.

DreamTrees's avatar

Apologizing is a way of recognizing the difficulty, or apologizing for the inconvenience. An apology isn’t the same thing as saying one is sorry, “I’m sorry”, even though its the same words. Some apologies are family habits.

There are individuals who feel guilty about everything, apologize as a knee-jerk reaction, and it may even be one that was forced upon them as a small child. Whatever the reason…say thanks, and smile. If they are up to something, and you smile, they’ll wonder what you are hiding. :)

DreamTrees's avatar

If friends take crap from someone, be thankful. There is a line, and you don’t want to cross it; however, having said that, if you aren’t willing to go the extra mile, you may as well just consider yourself to be a casual acquaintance, and skip the friendship.

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