Polite Communication

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

  • Matthew 5:33-37

I do not think that they teach etiquette or polite speech or anything along those lines anymore.

When the telemarketer calls, they want to specifically talk to me, but they do not identify themselves.  I was taught proper telephone etiquette.  I ask, “To whom shall I say is calling?”  This expression is often used to make the caller identify themselves and not admit that you are indeed the person for whom they wished to speak.  Once you have them identify themselves, you could say, “He is unable to come to the phone.” Or if you wish to speak to the person, you would say, “This is he (she).”  That is being polite, dodging identifying yourself until they have properly, and hopefully politely, identified themselves.

The telemarketers simply start their sales pitch or press the button to play a recorded message.  At that point, they could care less if I am the one they are talking to.  I immediately hang up on them.  I do not think they listen to anything you say.

In my opinion, it is impossible to be rude to a computer.  I feel that those that do not show one scintilla of politeness do not deserve any in return.  Thus, when someone is rude on the phone, I cannot wait to simply hang up.  I say nothing rude myself.  At some point when they come up for air, they find that their phone has been disconnected.

And if you call and do not say anything within the first 6-7 seconds (and yes, I silently count), then I know they are switching the call from the computer to the telemarketer.  Before they start talking, they will find that the line went dead.

But if it is a human being who is just confused, I still have problems.  There are callers these days wanting you to say exactly what Jesus tells us to say in the Scripture above so that they can record it and create a conversation of yes, no questions and with careful editing have us agree to just about anything or disagreeing to the negative of just about anything.  Even though we said what Jesus told us to say, the conversation was straight from the evil one.

The military had their own polite manner of communication over the radio.  Many of the old movies had a pilot that would say “Roger, Wilco, over and out!”  I heard that pilots in Vietnam would copy that line, but to a radio man who knew better, it turned his stomach.  (These days his or her stomach.)  “Roger” means that you understand.  “Wilco” is short for “will comply”, but it says much more. “Wilco” says, “I understand.  I will comply.  No more needs to be said.  Out.”  Once someone says “Out” the conversation is over.  If you are the junior person, you better be confident that the conversation is over or there will be a new uncomfortable conversation that will follow.  But “Over” and “Out” should never go together.  “Over” is simply acknowledging that you are finished until the other person adds something.

I have had conversations over the telephone like that.  It was a special hook-up through a satellite that only allowed one-way communications, one way at a time.  Thus, you said “over” to let the other person know that they could then speak.  Again, once you said “out”, the conversation was ended.

First, why do I answer the phone when it is a telemarketer?  Answering the phone marks your phone as being active and you get even more nuisance calls.  Why?  The kidney transplant team says that a computer call may be what we get when my wife has a chance for a transplant.  We probably have another three years before getting those calls, but we need to establish good habits.

So, now that I answer the phone all the time, I am inundated by rudeness.  Maybe I am just too old, or maybe a few generations after me were simply not taught properly.

Then again, they aren’t polite drivers either, usually because they are on the phone at the time…

I am not saying that having Victorian principles of proper etiquette shows that you are a Christian, but you ought to try it sometime.  Being polite with a sign of being a bit subservient to the other person often gets good results.  If they have been taught any graciousness at all, they might reciprocate.

But even without a positive response, we are doing as Jesus taught, showing love for the other person.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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