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Inspirational and Insightful Quotations #25 --- Politeness

Updated on November 29, 2015

Quotations on Politeness

Punctuality is one of the characteristics of politeness. He who does not keep his appointments properly is unfit for the society of gentlemen, and will soon find himself shut out from it.

---Theophile Meerschaert, The Indian Advocate, Sacred Heart, Okla., May 1902.

Politeness is a sort of guard which covers the rough edges of our character and prevent their wounding others.

---Theophile Meerschaert, The Indian Advocate, Sacred Heart, Okla., February 1904.

Being polite when it’s hard is a great investment. It is an investment in the cloth of character. In little things as in big, it’s the way men grow–by taking it on the chin, smilingly. I deserve no credit if I am nice to the people who are nice to me. It’s the easy way, just following in the groove. But when I am nice to the fellow who makes me boil inside, I am growing at the same moment that he is being whittled down by his stupid rudeness.

—Grove H. Patterson, Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio, July 10, 1944

Politeness is the poetry of conduct.

---John Dodwell, The Citizen, Berea, Ky., May 22, 1902.

Politeness never has a stiff neck.

---Elijah Powell Brown, El Reno Democrat, El Reno, Okla., Feb. 2, 1899.

There can be no true politeness without the practice of self-denial.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Taylor County News, Abilene, Texas, March 30, 1894.

Politeness is the best defense against other people’s bad manners.

---Florence Kingsland, Success Magazine, New York, N.Y., September 1905.

To be compelled to listen and be polite at the same time is most too hard for some of us.

---Duncan M. Smith, Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 23, 1911.

Politeness—the art of not letting other people know what you think of them.

---Pat McVean, The Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 6, 1944.

A man should be as polite all the time as a candidate for office.

---E.W. “Ed” Howe, Youngstown Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, May 20, 1912.

There are people who think they’re being polite when the fact is they’re merely being civil—which is the base from which genuine politeness is measured.

---John Merrill Chilcote, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Mo., Feb. 15, 1967.

There may be politeness without courtesy, but never courtesy without politeness. Politeness is the grease that lubricates the machinery of business.

‑‑‑Carson City News, Carson City, Nev., March 15, 1924.

The little courtesies of life are too often forgotten where it is most important that they should be remembered, in the home and with one’s own family. Polite attentions cost but a thought, but are often worth more than money. Some honest, hard-working, good people appear to think politeness is for the “stylish” only. Yet no home is so humble that the practice of courtesies will not add to its comfort and happiness. A habit of politeness, of paying little grateful attentions to one another goes far to prevent discord in any family. Especially is it a great mistake for young married people to allow themselves to neglect the little courtesies that were so pleasant during the courtship. Politeness does not mean insincerity, and it need not be hypocrisy to wish one a cheerful good morning or ask how he rested, or offer a chair, or to open a door, or any one of a thousand little attentions that show one thinks of the comfort and happiness of another. A cheerful politeness at the table aids digestion and adds flavor to the plainest meal. The guest comes only for a time into the family. The wish to make him comfortable and at ease is expressed in polite attentions. How much more important that the same desires should be expressed to the family on whose happiness and good will your own depend.

---Lucius W. Nieman, Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, Wis., Jan. 27, 1917.

It seems to me that consideration for others is a basic virtue—but I have always looked upon politeness as something invented. Consideration is always politeness, but politeness is only consideration in spots. We bow to politeness more because it is the proper ting, rather than the right thing. Live the Golden Rule—and you will not need to worry about the application of the rules of politeness to your everyday course of action. Genuine politeness is instinctive naturalness—doing the thing that you believe to be right and not bothering your head about what people are going to say about it. If you are honest and sincere it doesn’t matter what people will think or say. We invite all the politeness that we deserve from others. It is not a thing to be regulated by a set of rules at all. Something with which we are born asserts itself at the right moment, and we are either polite or we are not. People come to know us as we are in this manner, though their judgment may not be the final one upon our character! No two of us are born alike, though we are born into the same world. Personality, therefore, should by the only criterion for the final judgment. Fine breeding should always suggest fine politeness. We must early recognize our oneness with ourselves. Each of us is unique in greater or lesser degree.

---George Matthew Adams, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Dec. 1, 1933.

Politeness oils the wheels of human relations.

Some persons are polite because they are timid. As soon as their timidity wears off they get rough. They are the kind who will address your courteously until they get acquainted with you; then will call your familiarly by some lowdown nickname which they think is funny. They show you consideration until they feel on easy terms with you; then they get indifferent to your feelings. You must always keep such persons at a distance or they will get fresh.

And some persons are polite only so long as they think it profitable to themselves to be courteous. After they have gotten what they want, or think they cannot get it, they cease to be polite. They are like a cat that will purr around until it gets its meal, then will tell you to go to. That kind of thing is funny in a cat but not in a person.

Then there is the person who is polite only where and when he is afraid not to be polite. He will be just as rude as he dares be. It sometimes takes a poke in the jaw, literally or figuratively, to impress him with the virtue or the need of politeness.

The ideally polite person is the one who is characteristically and habitually polite, whose politeness is as natural to him as the color of his eyes. The other day a man was assigned the task of presenting a delicate matter to a person high in authority.

“It may make him sore,” said the man hesitantly.

“No matter if it does,” the man was assured, “he will be a gentleman and will treat you as one.”

That is a splendid thing to be able to say about a man.

Some misguided folks imagine that politeness is a sign of weakness; it is if one is polite merely because he is weak. But politeness may be a sign of great strength.

It is the person who does not have to be polite whose politeness shines, like the noonday sun—the person who is polite to everybody, to his subordinates, to his inferiors. He shows that if he is not already a big soul, he has the makings of one.

---Wickes Wamboldt, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Sept. 24, 1940.

Courtesy is often confused with politeness. What is ordinarily termed politeness does not include deeds of kindness, although true politeness does do so. The ordinary amenities of polite society consist mostly of conventionalities and commonplace perfunctory remarks. Even these are desirable--much better than their absence. "Politeness makes a man appear outwardly what he should be inwardly." But true courtesy tells what he is within, what the man himself is, and does it very simply. ... Courtesy consists of deeds, while politeness may consist largely of deeds. The effect of each lies mostly in the manner in which they are used. To do a kindness with apparent reluctance transforms it into an affront, just as the salutation, 'Good morning!' when said in a perfunctory and indifferent way, had much better be left unsaid. And because one is a member of our own family or because he is a fellow worker in our business, is not reason we should not be as courteous and polite to him as to anyone else; indeed, we are under greater obligation to be kind to our friends than to others, then why not be courteous and polite to them--as much so as to others? One may be polite without being kind, whereas courtesy is kindness in action, leading all the way from a cheery salutation to the sacrifice of life.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 18, 1921.

Courtesy belongs to the soul; politeness to the flesh. There may be politeness without courtesy, but never courtesy without politeness. Courtesy thinks of others; politeness of itself. They may be compared to a building, courtesy being the strong and sure foundation, the enduring framework; politeness the veneer put on the please the casual observer. Politeness is skin-deep; courtesy is bred in the bone Politeness thinks of the passing hour; courtesy thinks of all time. Courtesy is in-born; politeness is acquired. Courtesy may be found in the rough miner or the hardy sailor; politeness in the ballroom. Politeness believes in honor, but courtesy is the soul of honor. Politeness of the two horns of a dilemma chooses the less troublesome to itself; courtesy that which will cause the less discomfort to others. In a race where Time is the judge, Politeness will win easily; but give Eternity the legal cap and gown and Courtesy distances her rival by long odds. Courtesy is an attribute of the soul; politeness of the brain. True courtesy is never an imitator, while politeness is often counterfeit. Courtesy considers the feelings of others; politeness the rules of etiquette. Courtesy is character; politeness is reputation. Courtesy is the diamond; politeness is the polish given it by skilled lapidary. Courtesy is cautious: politeness is cunning. Courtesy is a pearl of great price; politeness the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Courtesy is the house founded upon a rock; politeness on the shifting sand. Politeness is art; courtesy is nature. Politeness is the temple, magnificent and costly, beautiful as a dream, and as evanescent, built by human hands, which crumble to decay; courtesy, true courtesy, is the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Autumn Leaves, Lamoni, Iowa, June 1908.

Courtesy is a noble word, and has but one meaning–exhibiting in manner or speech a considerable regard for others. If the word is used correctly, to say one is courteous is the same as saying, "A person has a certain high regard for others which finds expression in the manner of his, or her, behavior toward them." Courtesy is sincere politeness. Now one may be polite and not be sincere. And again, one may be polite and be 100 per cent sincere. Politeness is a garment that can be put on at will by the one who possesses it, either in sincerity, or in insincerity, in accord with the desires of the heart. Politeness is a manner of behavior that can be good or evil, and the deceptions which have been practiced behind a polite mask of considerable regard for others would fill libraries if recorded. But the word "courtesy" bars evil from its door. Its meaning as defined is "Genuine and habitual politeness." And from that we may safely accept it as a true and noble word, consistent in good behavior.

Guidelines to Leadership, Independence, Mo., July-August 1952.

Politeness is simple honesty. And to be honest is to answer to our most sincere impulses whether these impulses tell of the proper thing or not. Fine conduct is naturalness so shaped as to make people comfortable and happy. He or she uses the best etiquette who makes these near the least disturbed and at ease. The fine mannered heart doesn't hurt other hearts. We never become completely educated. But we grow more educated as we learn to inspire others through our own efforts to use every faculty at our command for the happiness of others.

—George Matthew Adams, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La., June 10, 1926.

True politeness is ever an indication of good breeding. With some people it’s innate, with others it’s acquired by cultivation, but, however it comes, politeness, if continuously practiced, will exert a powerful influence for good upon one’s whole life. Success in any given undertaking may possibly be gained without it, but with it, success achieved will be more distinctly marked with the element of permanency. It’s the distinguishing line separating the gentleman from the boor. Like a magnet, politeness attracts notice, wins respect, elicits admiration and strengthens friendships; while, conversely, rudeness repels, annoys and arouses a feeling of disgust in the minds of those who are refined and cultured. The boy, or girl, who maintains an attitude of politeness to his father and mother, showing a thoughtful consideration in every movement, giving ready obedience to their slightest wishes, and asking and answering questions in a soft, gentle but sympathetic tone of voice, is greatly to be admired and will undoubtedly make his mark in the world. It follows as “the night, the day,” if he is thus polite with his parents he will be also with his brothers and sisters and with people generally.

—Rudger Clawson, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, July 10, 1913.

Politeness is always cheap but it commands a good price. Politeness will smooth out the roughest road. Politeness is sometimes the disguise that cruelty wears. Politeness is a sense of decency in action. Politeness is a product of the heart, and not of the head. Politeness is just a decent regard for the feelings of others. Politeness may be carried to extremes but it seldom happens.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 18, 1933.

If you would like to do something to lessen the friction of business intercourse, cultivate the general use of the word "Please." Use it when you give an order, when you ask a favor, or make a request. Use it when you speak on the telephone. Use it especially in speaking to those who are working under your authority. To say "please" is one of the first lessons of childhood--and one of the necessary lessons of well-rounded business life. What a magic word is "Please!" And to what shall it be compared? It is like the oil–for it softens the friction of every transaction. It is like the dot on the 'i'–for though a very small thing, it is instantly missed when it is gone. Learn to use this wonderful word–learn to love its charm, its sweetness and its power. It is only a little thing in itself, but the spirit that prompts its use is the essence of greatness.

—Waldo Pondray Warren, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 20, 1907.

"Love doth not behave itself unseemly." (1 Corinthians 13:5.) Love is not boorish, nor discourteous. It does not seek to act the clown--the opposite of genuine politeness. It bears no resemblance to the proverbial "pig in the flower garden" or "donkey in the parlor." It balances a man by bringing him into correct relations with his fellows and impelling him to act with consideration for their rights, imparting a delicacy of feeling and a refinement in conduct beyond the ordinary rules of politeness. It has been well said that "a beautiful form is better than a beautiful face, and a beautiful behavior is better than a beautiful form; it gives a higher pleasure than statues or pictures--it is the finest of the fine arts."

—Samuel Judson Porter, Baptist Standard, Dallas Texas, June 22, 1916.

Cordiality and politeness legitimate a person with friendship and benefits the individual he meets.

—S.S. Nettles, The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., April 8, 1897.

Impoliteness is but another name for selfishness, and true politeness is true unselfishness.

—R.B. Garrett, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, June 23, 1892.

Politeness is not a matter of observing rules. It is the result of a determination to be polite and act politely.

—Marshall Woodson, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., May 25, 1942.

It is no test of politeness to be polite only to friends.

—Gloria Young, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 13, 1932.

A true gentleman or lady is known by his or her regard for the rights and feelings of others; and it is no mark of a lady or gentleman to be churlish, uncouth, or to be indifferent in regard to others’ feeling and to their welfare. Politeness ought to be made a habit. A man may have high ability, but if he lacks courtesy or what some call civility, he will not succeed in making friends and accomplishing great results like a man who possesses the quality, though his talents may be of a lower order. Our deportment towards our friends should agree with our feelings. If a person commits a wrong, a true friend will not conceal his feelings respecting it, but will tell the wrongdoer plainly and kindly that his conduct has been improper. But he should be sure, to begin with, that he himself is right, and not speak in haste and from anger. There is a kindness of manner which one friend can use to another, even when administering a rebuke or describing faults, that will touch and soften the feelings, and produce lasting effects. Every person should cultivate this manner, call it by what name you please, courtesy, politeness or civility.

—George Q. Cannon, Juvenile Instructor, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 8, 1871.

The truest politeness comes from sincerity. It must be the outcome of the heart, or it will make no lasting impression; for no amount of polish can dispense with truthfulness. The natural character must be allowed to appear, freed from its angularities and asperities. True politeness especially exhibits itself in regard for the personality of others. A woman will respect the individuality of another, if she wishes to be respected herself. She will have due regard for views and opinions of others even though they differ from her own. A well-mannered person pays a compliment to another and shows respect by partially listening to him. Such a person also refrains from judging harshly. The habit of disputing and contradicting everything said is chilling and repulsive, and shows ill manners. Good manners indicate good humor, kindness and perfect simplicity. Grace of manner, politeness of behavior, eloquence of demeanor, and all the arts that contribute to make life pleasant and beautiful are worthy of careful cultivation. Politeness of manner is not worth much unless it is accompanied by polite action.

—Lillie Jensen, Young Woman’s Journal, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1923.

Politeness should form an essential part of the early education. It is always and everywhere a recommendation, and if it is neglected in childhood, it is very difficult to acquire afterwards; it will need some persistency of effort at all events. We must not wait until our children are half grown before [we] teach them the simple rules of politeness and initiate them into the gracefulness of manners that will make them pleasing on all occasions.

—Emmeline B. Wells, Woman’s Exponent, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 15, 1879.

Politeness loses all its savor when it's the prelude to a favor.

—Theodore L. Cannon, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 14, 1963.

No one is too big to be polite, but many people are too little.

—Tom Ethridge, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., Dec. 2, 1968.

Politeness is the grease that lubricates the machinery of business.

Carson City News, Carson City, Nev., March 15, 1924.

There is a great difference between the politeness that comes from strength and the politeness that comes from weakness; the former is a virtue, while the latter is only a strategy.

Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 19, 1963.

Patience is the highest form of politeness.

Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Oct. 1, 1894.

Most people have to think twice before they are polite.

Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho, Jan. 8, 1924.

Kindness is the only true politeness.

Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho, July 25, 1926.

Politeness is as natural to delicate natures as perfume is to flowers.

Park Record, Park City, Utah, Dec. 31, 1910.

Nobody loses anything by being polite, but there are a lot of people who seem afraid to take the risk.

Pocatello Tribune, Pocatello, Idaho, July 14, 1921.

Politeness is next to godliness.

Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pa., Aug. 22, 1903.


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