Reality Isn’t Always Polite, Even Though It’s Always Right - Grasshopper
Reality can wipe your nose or kick your butt and, in either case, it's always right but not always polite. Sometimes, to show you care, you cannot be polite.
The thing your mother told you - "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," doesn't always work in a reality based world, especially when you need results.
There are times when politeness would be better served sitting on its hands while you do the impolitic thing.
Think of the chaos in elevator riding if you followed the polite rule of letting women, children, the handicapped and the elderly go first. If you're in front of them and you're all getting off on the same floor, it's in everyone's best interest for you to get off first, rather than attempting to create space in a crowded elevator just to be polite.
I'm eternally amused when I see a parent trying to reason with a two year old in a supermarket. "Now Billy, we've talked about this. You can't stay at the toy display all day because we have shopping to do. Come over here now and be a good little boy and help me do the shopping." You can be as polite as you want to be, but you eventually have to move Billy - impolite, but the only strategy that works.
How often have you noticed your polite strategy not working with a friend, co-worker or family member and then you continue to use it? My experience is it's the rule rather than the exception.
If you really care about someone, sometimes the only way to reach them is by being impolite. They become inured to sugar coated innuendo and can only be reached by impolite reality.
Reminds me of a story . . . my mother was visiting many years ago and was having a problem with her foot. I took her to a friend who was a podiatrist. He assessed and addressed her foot problem and then added this polite phrase: "You're pulse is a little weak at your ankles."
My mother hadn't been taking great care of herself up to that point and was contributing to her poor circulation. The many attempts at polite conversation about the issue had fallen on deaf ears. When we got in the car, after the appointment, I said rather emphatically, "You know that blood that's not flowing to your ankles, it's also not flowing to you head." Not exactly the most polite thing to say to your mother.
In conversations with my wife and our neighbor later that day, my mother said the following: "The doctor told me that the blood that's not flowing to my ankles is also not flowing to my head. I'm going to look up a circulation specialist when I get home because I don't want to have a stroke like my mother."
She did look up the name of a specialist when she got home and luckily had it handy when she had a TIA (a mini stroke) less than two months later. She required carotid artery surgery on both her arteries to clear the 90% blockages to her brain.
She continued to tell the story of the foot doctor who gave her the warning that saved her life, certainly not her impolite son.
I can't tell you when it's appropriate to be impolite; I can only testify to this: Polite isn't always right.
All the best,
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