How Polite Are You?

7 March 2009

By Neena Samuel and Joseph K. Vetter

A car cuts you off on the highway and then slows down. Someone left the empty orange juice carton in the refrigerator again. At the movie theater, the couple next to you decides to have an intense conversation during the climax of the film. People can be so rude! But wait, could you be one of “those people” without even knowing it? Take our quiz to find out!

Question 1 of 10: You’re checking your email when a business client calls.
You:

  1. Tell him you’re busy and will call right back.
  2. Continue reading and responding to email while talking on the phone.
  3. Put the email on hold until you’ve finished with the phone call.

Question 2 of 10: A colleague sends you a work-related email that contains sensitive information.
You:

  1. Forward it in its entirety to others. Emails are public information.
  2. Ask the sender first for permission to forward.
  3. Forward it without asking, but edit out certain portions.

Question 3 of 10: You’re in a mostly full mall parking garage and need to return something quickly.
You:

  1. Pull right into a handicapped space. Hey, you’ll just be a few minutes.
  2. Take a handicapped space, but only after scouring the entire garage for a regular space.
  3. Park only if you can find a regular space — or come back another time.

Question 4 of 10: You’re on a crowded bus when a pregnant woman gets on.
You:

  1. Immediately offer your seat.
  2. Wait to see if anyone else will offer a seat first.
  3. Avoid eye contact or pretend you’re asleep.

Question 5 of 10: You’re at a cocktail party talking to a casual acquaintance when you notice that his fly is open.
You:

  1. Tell him discreetly.
  2. Abruptly end the conversation and walk away.
  3. Keep on talking with him as though you didn’t notice.

Question 6 of 10: You’re asked for a charitable donation at a time when you don’t feel you can afford to give.
You:

  1. Grit your teeth and chip in anyway.
  2. Simply offer a terse refusal.
  3. Explain that you don’t have anything to spare at the moment but will contribute when you’re able.

Question 7 of 10: Your daughter gets a last-minute birthday-party invitation and you need a gift.
You:

  1. “Re-gift” a couple of books your daughter got for Christmas and hasn’t read yet.
  2. Rush to the nearest store, grab the first reasonable thing you see, and get a gift receipt.
  3. Shove $15 into an envelope and scribble “Happy Birthday” on it.

Question 8 of 10: You’re watching a favorite show on TV when your spouse enters the room and abruptly changes the channel.
You:

  1. Change it back and hide the remote.
  2. Stare him down until he gets the message.
  3. Remind him that you were watching a show and could he please ask if it is all right to change the channel.

Question 9 of 10: You’re waiting at the doctor’s office and the person next to you won’t stop talking.
You:

  1. Move to the other side of the waiting room.
  2. Say nicely to the person that you’d prefer not to talk.
  3. Stare straight ahead as though in a trance.

Question 10 of 10: You’re at your son’s soccer game and you hear a spectator repeatedly curse at the action.
You:

  1. Tell him that he is acting rudely.
  2. Ask him politely to stop.
  3. Bring it to the ref’s attention.

The Answers :

Question 1 : The answer is: Put the email on hold until you’ve finished with the phone call. Conversation is give-and-take, and at work you’re being paid to give. So turn away from your inbox and give your client your full attention.

Question 2 : The answer is: Ask the sender first for permission to forward. The email was meant for your eyes only, so keep it that way unless you get the go-ahead from the source.

Question 3 : The answer is: Park only if you can find a regular space — or come back another time. Parking in a handicapped spot is not only rude, it’s illegal. Save yourself the bad karma and the price of a parking ticket — take another tour around the parking lot.

Question 4 : The answer is: Immediately offer your seat. Sacrificing your comfort to help another person in need is Basic Civility 101. Show some courtesy and compassion for the mom-to-be (or anyone who looks like he needs to sit down more than you do) and offer up your seat.

Question 5 : The answer is: Tell him discreetly. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: You would want someone to tell you, right? Saving someone from embarrassment is just the kind and polite thing to do.

Question 6 : The answer is: Explain that you don’t have anything to spare at the moment but will contribute when you’re able. Instead of avoiding the situation, just be honest. Everyone can relate to having to pay the bills on time.

Question 7 : The answer is: Rush to the nearest store, grab the first reasonable thing you see, and get a gift receipt. Picking out a gift should only take about 20 minutes, and it’s a better alternative than looting your child’s possessions or making do with an impromptu gift envelope that screams “tacky.”

Question 8 : The answer is: Remind him that you were watching a show and could he please ask if it is all right to change the channel. Be an adult and handle this situation directly. Otherwise, you might be playing “hide the remote” or “see who blinks first” more times than you’d like.

Question 9 : The answer is: Say nicely to the person that you’d prefer not to talk. The most direct way to getting what you want is to speak up. Your newfound friend may not even realize he’s being too chatty.

Question 10 : The answer is: Ask him politely to stop. “If you can’t beat them, join them” doesn’t apply here. Be the cooler head — the other parents and kids will appreciate it.

Source: Reader’s Digest.

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