In general, I would argue that we need more politeness in the world rather than less. A little social lubrication goes a long way toward preventing riots and mayhem and freeway shootings. However, I think there is one way the politeness habit does us a disservice. We feel we have to respond. And that can get in the way of mindful behavior. Go with me here…
We all have or know of someone who has a toxic relationship. At a certain point, the only way to deal with the mess is to get out of it, block the number, move away, get the restraining order, whatever is necessary. No matter what stimulus the toxic person offers, we have to ignore it because nothing good will come of responding. But every time, when the phone rings or the text comes or whatever, we have to fight our politeness training that says we have to answer.
Now let’s apply the principle to a more metaphorical relationship. Let’s imagine we have a toxic relationship with ice cream. There we are at the store and the ice cream speaks to us. It would be rude to ignore it, right? We are trained to reply to stimulus. When we are mindful, we can choose not to answer the ice cream. We can blow it off, no matter what promises it makes about how this time it is going to be different.
Maybe ice cream will stop liking us. I think we can cope with that.