Rule 1: Be kind, be polite.


August 31, 2021 by Kenneth Fisher

In my house, this is rule one. Sometimes it’s my wife or I reminding our kids, sometimes it’s them reminding us. Over time, other rules have come and gone, but this is always rule one. In fact rule one has been around since before my oldest was born. My wife and I discussed a number of things we wanted to teach our kids, and obviously this was at the top of the list. So far I think it’s worked out pretty well, both for them, and for us.

I was reminded why this particular rule is so important a few weeks back. I was working on a problem with a developer, and of course, since there was a database involved, it had to be the database’s fault. Never mind that the error had nothing to do with the database.

Dev: Please check this.
Me: Of course.
Dev: Check this.
Me: Be Kind, Be Polite. Sure thing.
Dev: Would you share your screen and check that.
Me: Be Kind, Be Polite. Nope, not that either.

10 minutes later

Dev: Go over here and try changing this.
Me: Mentally grinding my teeth and screaming. Of course.
Dev: That fixed it!
Me: Sitting there with my mouth open in shock for a few seconds. Yay!

And just so you know, the same solution fixed the problem they were having in two other environments as well. Yes, I made several suggestions of other places we could look. Yes, I was obviously wrong each time. But here’s the thing. No matter what was going through my head, I stayed polite, I stayed kind. And thank goodness I did, given that in the end I was wrong!

I guess what I’m saying is if you can’t be polite and kind just because it’s the right thing to do, be polite and kind because sometimes it will save you from looking like an idiot. I mean really, what can it hurt?

2 thoughts on “Rule 1: Be kind, be polite.

  1. Sean Redmond says:

    Hi Kenneth,
    Isn’t being kind & polite essentially the same as being respectful, namely making each person you interact with feel as if they are important, even if you can’t help them right now?
    To your two adjectives, I would also add, ‘be generous, when you can’.
    Kind regards,
    Sean Redmond

    • I’m not sure that kind & polite are quite the same thing as being respectful, but they are certainly close enough. And absolutely generosity is a wonderful trait to have.

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