Social Dynamics And Importance Of Being Polite
THE NUMBER-ONE RULE WHEN IT COMES TO BEHAVIOR IS TO
Acting rude communicates that you don’t care about other people, which is selfish and totally not movie-star style.(In my opinion, rudeness is reality television-star style—which no one should aspire to!)
I suspect most rude behavior comes from people being too busy, being too crazy, or just being in their own world and ignoring everyone else. And though certainly everyone’s life gets a bit nuts every now and again, it’s never a valid excuse—in my opinion—to be rude or to take that stress out on other people. Period.
“Courtesy” is another word for being polite, though we tend to think of courtesies as actions that we take—like letting an older person take your seat on a bus, for instance, or letting people with children board or disembark a plane before you. Have you ever been on a plane where the cabin crew asks people without connecting flights to wait, so the people who have to make a connection can get off first? I have, and it’s always disheartening to see everyone stand up, because you know that the people around you who don’t have connections are putting themselves first, when being specifically asked not to. That’s the epitome of rude!
In general, being oblivious of people around you—whether it’s in the security line at the airport (ahem, everyone should know by now that you have to take off your shoes!), a public place, or in a restaurant—is inconsiderate, impolite, and totally déclassé.
The basic, other than the courtesies I just described, is to say “please” and “thank you” to everyone, in almost any situation. If someone gives me something—whether it’s an awesome gift from a designer or a bartender handing me a martini—I say “thank you.” Frankly, I think anyone who is rude, demanding, or condescending to a waiter, bartender, or server is completely gross. On a date, it’s a deal-breaker—if a guy does it, we are finished. I don’t need to know anything else about you to know that you’re a jerk. I find that behavior so unacceptable that I simply don’t associate with people like that—and would call out anyone who did.
One of the things I adore about my Fashion Police cohost Joan Rivers is that she is lovely, nice, and charming to everyone she meets, particularly the people who wait on her. She says “please” and “thank you”—and means it. No matter what, Joan is totally sincere about her manners and showing people respect. So if someone doesn’t behave that way, celebrity or not, I think that person is incredibly tacky—and that their momma didn’t raise them right! (Mommas, if you are reading this book, teach your kids to say “please” and “thank you”!)
When you get down to it, being polite is really about being considerate of other people. If you cut someone off in traffic (accidentally or only sort of accidentally), raise your hand in the air to acknowledge and apologize for it. If someone around you sneezes, say “God bless you” or “Gesundheit.” When you are at the gym, wipe down the machine even if you don’t think you actually got sweat on it. And wear deodorant—it may be the gym, but that’s no excuse to stink up the place. Be sure to say “excuse me” or “pardon me” when you bump into someone or need to get by. Respect people older than you by addressing them formally: sir, ma’am, miss. It’s so simple—there’s no reason for rudeness!
It might seem contradictory for me to talk about being polite when my job is to critique people on television. But if you watch Fashion Police, you’ll notice that I pretty much limit my opinions to the clothes stars are wearing, not the stars themselves. I try not to insult people, both on the show and in real life.
As a general rule, you should never write, say, or otherwise communicate criticism or gossip that you can’t tell a person to their face. Did I dislike the dress Halle Berry wore to the 2012 Golden Globes? Yes. Would I tell Halle to her face that I thought the dress was a little tacky? It would probably be a bit nerve-racking or awkward, but if she asked my opinion, I would say that I personally didn’t like it and that I think there are better choices for glamorous women such as herself. By the same token, I would tell Jessica Chastain that I adored her dress for the same event, although Joan did not (sorry, Joan!). It’s important, whether you’re making a public statement on television or not, to be tactful and respectful when talking about other people.
Manners also come into play when you’re around other people, whether at a party or in your office. In a strictly social setting—like a party—having great manners and impeccable etiquette is not all that tricky. As I said before in the chapter on entertaining, it’s important to become an interesting party guest and conversationalist. Bone up a little on current events, both hard news and pop culture, so you can have an opinion on topics that may come up in conversation.