I have a colleague who is one of the kindest people I know. She puts other people first all the time, and, as a teacher, puts her heart and soul into teaching and supporting students. Due to her incredibly positive nature, I feel like a monster criticizing her.
But it was due to her that I developed my philosophy about how politeness becomes rudeness. It came about when she held the door for me at the entrance of the school. Of course, this is a polite thing to do. UNLESS the person is very far away. This induces the person to feel like they need to speed up, perhaps even run. Even if the person says, “You don’t need to run,” it’s hard not to feel like you are inconveniencing the person holding the door.
A similar thing happens at four-way stop signs. Now, sometimes who should go next can be confusing: two or more people may get to the signs at almost the same moment. What I’m talking about is when someone clearly gets there first but starts to wave people through. I don’t think this is helpful. There is a clear pattern that works and should be followed. Breaking that pattern just confuses everyone, and cars buck forward and stop as each person tries to go. It looks like a bunch of wildebeest pretending to charge each other, and no one knows which one is dominant.
I believe in kindness, and I am a polite person. I am so polite, indeed, that I know when kindness warps into rudeness.