Friday, November 03, 2006

Rude, or polite?

Where do we draw the line between being rude, or polite? When we decline when we are offered something? Or when we take something offered, without really wanting it?

I was faced with that situation recently, when I continuously declined offers from my friend.

This prompted him to say “From now on, I will not offer you anything anymore, since you always say ‘no, thanks. It’s ok’. Where I come from, it is customary that we take the offering, whether we want to or not…”

So that statement got me thinking…am I really being impolite? By declining his offer? Because I thought I was being polite, by not taking something I do not want, rather than taking it and not eating it, thus wasting the food.

So I got a few comments from my family and friends, and this is my explanation on why I acted the way I did…

In Malaysia, it’s our culture that when we do not want something, we decline it politely. Not in the way that says ‘I’m not eating your food, cos I look down on you, and your food is lousy’. But more to the way that says ‘No, thank you. But I appreciate the offer.’

So, we’re different from other countries in this aspect, I guess. I heard from friends that in London or other more westernised countries, that even though we do not want it, we still take it to avoid from offending that person.

But I was still a little bothered by my friend’s comment, it was like as if he was forcing me to accept what I do not want. I’m sure it wasn’t his intention, but I can’t help but feel that way. Maybe I’m being too sensitive. Or maybe not.


So what do I do? Should I start to accept his offers, or go on the way I always have before? Decline something when I do not want it, and accept when I do?

I guess many people have their own conception on whether they view something as polite or rude. It’s all up to your way of thinking. If you want it to offend you, then there’s nothing we can say to un-offend you. If you chose not to be offended, then there’s nothing we can say to offend you, right?

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