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7 social niceties we all suffer through

By / 12.06.12
Social Niceties Suffer

Jair Alcon Photography, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebrownman7/4560313197/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Half of our day-to-day time and energy seems to be spent on our necessities (food, clothing, income, love), but the other half seems to just be devoted social maneuvering (maintaining a good reputation, being extra friendly, etc.) Something isn’t adding up. Is this really what life has come to, being so hyper-aware of our social image that it’s one of the main focuses of everyday life? What’s the worst social nicety you spend your valuable energy on?

Photo credit: Jair Alcon Photography, Flickr

7 Talking About Traffic and Weather When There’s Nothing Else to Talk About

Weather

boboroshi, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/boboroshi/28262006/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: “I-95? Nah man, you’ve gotta take the Parkway North, then go Westbound on the Cross County to avoid that clusterfuck!” or “I hear it’s supposed to rain, did you hear that?”

Reality: Traffic and weather are subjects that anyone who goes places or steps outside can relate to (yes, that’s everyone). So instead of actually getting to know one another better, we’re happy to talk about nothing and therefore, learning nothing.

Solution: Instead, ask something personal like, “What’s your favorite sexual position?” or “What reality TV star would you enjoy murdering the most?”… anything other than the default traffic and weather report.

Photo credit: boboroshi, Flickr

6 Saying the Food is Good at a Restaurant

Food Good

TheSeafarer, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheilascarborough/5044686282/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: While at dinner, we tell a friend that our steak isn’t medium-rare like we’d asked. The waiter comes over and asks how the food is. We say it’s “delicious” and then we’re ashamed because we pussed-out to save face.

Reality: The food isn’t delicious, but we don’t want to make the waiter’s job the least bit harder or insult the chef by sending our food back.

Solution: Honesty. We did shell out extra money to eat out, didn’t we?

Photo credit: TheSeafarer, Flickr

5 Holding Doors for Others

Holding the Door

Elmira College, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/elmiracollege/2806277923/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: Dude is an entire flight of steps away and we hold the door for him anyway.

Reality: The problem isn’t that we chose to hold the door (which is a nice thing to do), but that we’re holding it when the other person is too far away. We didn’t do it because we’re such good souls. We did it because we don’t want him to think we’re jerks for not holding it.

Solution: Shut the door in his face. Or, you know, just choose to only hold it when people are close enough.

Photo credit: Elmira College, Flickr

4 Running Toward a Door That’s Been Opened For You

Running Stairs

Perry Goh, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/perrygoh/6800053876/sizes/c/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: Some douche is holding the door for us and we’re a full flight of stairs away, so we rub some hustle on it to get there faster.

Reality: We’re rushing because we don’t want to make the other person wait for us. Then again, they shouldn’t have waited with the door open in the first place. What a jerk.

Solution: Don’t worry, the other guy is just as worried about making a good impression as you are…take your time so you don’t tumble face-first down the stairs and have to sue someone for a huge sum of money. Actually…

Photo credit: Perry Goh, Flickr

3 Acting Super Interested in Co-Worker’s Weekends

Super Interested

greggoconnell, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/greggoconnell/36973681/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: Saying something like, “Hey, how was your weekend?” or “What are you up to this weekend?”

Reality: Unless we’re actual friends with this person we don’t really care. We’re just a) making conversation and b) trying to seem interested so they like us better.

Solution: It’s easy to smile and just say “Hi” or “Good morning,” and it’ll save you a solid minute or two of mind-numbing small talk.

Photo credit: greggoconnell, Flickr

2 Saying What You’ve Already Said Hundreds of Times to Your Co-Workers

Already Said

Carolyn Coles, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncoles/502275948/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: “Man, it’s just one of those days…” or “Happy Friday!”

Reality: Outside of talking shop, there’s not always something interesting to chat about with co-workers. At least on Mondays and Fridays we can mention the fact that…IT’S MONDAY OR FRIDAY and everyone will just understand what that means. Oh, and hump day too. As in, “Oh well, at least it’s hump day.” No.

Solution: Say something different, like “TGIThursday” or “Working is great!” No one will know what to do.

Photo credit: Carolyn Coles, Flickr

1 Using the Past Tense to Seem Less Demanding

Past Tense

Victor1558, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829499269/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>


Example: “I just wanted to know when you can chat.”

Reality: We still want to know, we’re just saying it like it already happened to lessen the impact of our request.

Solution: Let’s be present and use the present tense.

Photo credit: Victor1558, Flickr


TAGSArbitrary Rankingsbeing politecasual conversationfeaturedListspolite societypolitenesssocial clichessocial etiquettesocial imagesocial moressocial nicetiessocial nicetysocial ruleswork cliches
Jason Epstein
About Jason Epstein... Jason Epstein is a nationally published freelance writer living in the greater NYC area. He's known for his close friends/good conversations/playing bass/wind in the face/rocking out/reading up/holding it down/good times/turning on dimes/and sometimes trying to rhyme(s). He can be reached at his website and you can follow him on Twitter here.

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