Political Politeness, Part 3

Political Politeness, Part 3

Today, locally, begins our city council race, among other races in our county. This can be a time of tension, though I think it could be used as a time of learning. So, to continue our political politeness series seems quite appropriate on the first day of early voting.

So behaviors, such as wearing a candidate’s shirt or pin to the polls, are actually illegal and could get you removed from the voting area. Other behaviors, such as setting up just outside the legal boundaries, simply are in bad taste. Garnering support for yourself or your candidate shouldn’t take place only the days of early voting and Election Day. It should have been an effort all along. I will say with honesty, sometimes we can lose a race for ourselves or others based on our actions. That is why etiquette and manners are so vital in the political arena.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for going to the polls.

DON’T:

Break the law by campaigning at the polls.

Reduce people to their political party. You don’t have to like a certain political party to respect someone as a human.

Tell people for whom you voted unsolicited. I strongly discourage political talk, but it is especially uncouth when it is unwanted.

Forget to vote. If you have done your research and plan to vote, make sure you actually go to the polls.

DO:

Remain calm and polite. The volunteers are doing their best with limited training. They will need to verify you are who you say you are.

Your research ahead of time. I have little respect for voting just to vote. This can often do much more harm than good.

Encourage others to voting in an informed matter, but always keep in mind: their opinion is no better or worse than yours.

Remember candidates and their supporters are human beings.

Remember the Golden Rule.

For everyone running for an office, I wish you a lot of luck. Regardless of the election outcome, I hope you find time to volunteer for your community. It needs you.

For everyone voting, I hope you put a lot of thought into your vote. Remember the candidates are not perfect, and support the winning candidate, regardless. We cannot move forward by cutting our nose to spite our face.

 

Political Politeness, Part 2

Hello, everyone! I hope you liked yesterday’s post that started the Political Politeness series. I had a comment from a reader, Marvin, who suggested I talk about the difference in listening to understand and listening to respond.

Too often people listen simply to reply. They’re planning their retort before the speaker has finished. We are simply too worried in ourselves (too absorbed with ourselves may be more like it). However, what do you hope to gain from listening only to respond to a political candidate? If that’s your goal, you were never interested in learning about their political stance to begin with. We can all learn, develop and grow from each other when we approach political conversations at a political forum with respect and a desire to truly understand where the other person is coming from.

If you are a political candidate, the same rule applies when debating your opponent. People are more interested in what YOU will do than they are in seeing you trying to “up” your opponent. Without respect, our political system is not as effective as it could be.

This is an aside, but reading from the 1942 Emily Post book, there is a section regarding “The Code of a Gentlemen.” Don’t worry, ladies. There’s a section for us, too. This chapter begins, “Far more important than any mere dictum of etiquette is the fundamental code of honor…” Yes. Everything about this, yes. Etiquette can only take us so far, which is why this blog cover much more than traditional etiquette. Honor. So many sayings and clichés cover this topic of kindness, including in politics, such as a the Golden Rule. However, given our topic, I’d like to end with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln that I hope we all keep in mind. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Next up in our political politeness series: How to address politicians and elected officials.

Thank you for reading!

Political Politeness, Part 1

Political discussions can quickly become political arguments. Let’s face it. It’s rare we ever change someone’s political opinion to that of our own. We all have areas within politics that are near and dear to our hearts. Therefore, what may be important to us may not be important to someone else, rendering your political argument a moot point.

Since my trips to both Austin and D.C., I’ve promised you a political etiquette mini-series, and I’m here to deliver. I’d like to start with the basics. Unless you are at a political forum or arena (appropriate word, given some of the outcomes I’ve witnessed), the best course of action is to truly steer clear of political debates. This is not to say you can’t have conversations of depth. It is to imply that it’s rare for a political discussion to have a change of someone’s thoughts.

If you are actually at a political forum, keep the discussion relevant to the topic at hand. Allow the candidate the opportunity to complete a thought before you respond. With any other attendee at the forum, remember they are not the candidate, regardless of how supportive they may seem.

Taboo topics are anything personally related. It does not matter if the candidate’s son has 50 tattoos. It does not matter if his or her daughter is obese. What matters, in this capacity, is the candidate’s ability to serve. There’s no sense in wasting an opportunity bashing a candidate personally, when you could use the time to learn more about his or her political beliefs.

In person, the term congressman is usually in reference to someone in the House of Representatives at the national level, such as Congressman Smith. It may, however, be used for the members of Senate, as well. Erroneously, “senator” is sometimes used. The term senator may not be used for someone in the House of Representatives.

In the end, we are all more than our political affiliation or lack thereof, and it’s important we keep this in mind.

 

The Problem With “No Problem”

This is actually a follow up post to one I posted a while back. The premise of the original post was the difference between “you’re welcome” versus “no problem” in response to someone’s thank you. I had someone follow up with an email stating that saying “you’re welcome” sounds too formal to them. However, in a world where everything goes, a little formality isn’t a bad thing, and it’s a mindset I hope to change. That being said, there isn’t actually anything formal about saying “you’re welcome.”

Responding with “no problem” indicates you feel the thanker thought him or herself to be a bother or problem to you. You’re consoling them. This can put the thanker on the defense, wondering if he or she was truly a problem and you’re simply being kind. It’s a negative response. Let’s think of the alternatives: You’re welcome. It was my pleasure. I was happy to do so. These are all responses in the positive form, leaving the thanker with a pleasant memory and experience of the interaction. If you’re in the business world, this is vital. If you are in the social world, it can make or break you.

I speak from experience when I say that people will take you more seriously when you give a more sincere, positive response to their thanks. I hope this summarizes up enough for most readers to understand the importance of a positive response that they will reconsider the passé “no problem.” As always, thank you for reading!