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How To Be NICE Without Being A Pushover

Question on Quora:

Why do people feel the need to be rude to me even though I am nice and polite to everyone?

My answer:

Two possible reasons. One is that, sorry to say, people have become ruder during the past 20 years (I’m almost 49). I think the Internet is partly to blame, because you can get into the habit of being rude anonymously, which will then slide over into face-to-face communication.

The second one, and one that I found when I was a kid, is that people take your kind character as permission to run roughshod over you. They see you as a doormat. And you’re too nice to stand up for yourself and establish boundaries.

Quick story: after graduating from college, I worked nights for a while at a nice restaurant. One of my fellow table servers was a 30-something year old guy who couldn’t keep lewd comments out of his conversation. He wasn’t making sexual innuendos toward me, understand, just talking generally.

He was a first-grade teacher, married with a kid, by the way. By which I mean to say, I found his behavior completely incongruent with his station in life.

One night, I’d had enough. I said, with firmness, something to the effect of how I found his constant sexual remarks offensive and that I wanted him to stop.

Never heard another lewd comment out of his mouth again.

Don’t stop being kind, but when people behave rudely set boundaries and be firm about it. Maybe even ask for reciprocal manners? You have the right not to be a doormat.

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