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Being Polite Could Kill You

Katy Alberti - Thursday, February 02, 2012

Do you know the commercial “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?”  Those two guys are uber polite, “But of course!” (It’s hard not to sound polite with a British accent.) Well, from a personal safety perspective, this is a good example of what not to do.

We are raised to be polite. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Consequently, bad guys have you right where they want you. They know that people inherently want to help others. So, they’ll ask for the time or directions or where the closest coffee shop is. You pull out your phone (because who wears a watch or carries a map anymore) and while you’re not looking…BAM! Crime!

It’s called a distraction technique. Attackers aren’t necessarily smarter than you, they just play dirty. It’s lame and unfair. But life is un-frigginlutely-fair.

A more relevant example might be Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie…

<<<SPOILER ALERT àSkip down past END SPOILER >>>

The killer asks Mikael to join him inside. And even though Mikael knows he’s the killer, he follows him in there because he doesn’t want to appear rude. Then the killer makes a poignant remark about his incredulity toward how people would rather appear polite than look out for their own safety. So, true!


[For those of you who skipped over the spoiler alert, get with the program already. You’re like the only one who hasn’t read the book. At least watch the movie. I digress…]

Have you ever sat next to someone who smelled like a contestant on Survivor and tortured yourself because you didn’t want the stinky cheese to think you were rude by moving seats? Or maybe let an unfamiliar someone into your dorm building, even though they gave you the heebee-jeebees, because your mom taught you that holding the door is the friendly thing to do? We, as humans, are concerned about what other people think of us. And that can get us into some sticky situations.

Be rude! It’s your life, optimize your experience. So, the answer to “Do you have any grey poupon?” should be “I can’t help you.” And then keep trucking along in your Rolls.

Like the saying [sorta] goes, you won’t make a criminal out of a stranger by being rude, but you could deter a bad guy…or at least enjoy the fresh air. Bookmark and Share
Michael Murray commented on 02-Feb-2012 03:09 PM
You are right on. Read Gavin De Becker's book "The Gift of Fear, Massad Ayoob's "In the Gravest Extreme", Col. Jeff Coopper's "Principles of Personal Defense" , Rory Miller's "Facing Violence" or Dave Grossman's "On Combat", "On Killing", or "Warrior Mindset"
also Gila Hayes' book "Personal Defense for Women". She is a former woman cop and the book is NOT just for women. These are all on the recommended reading list for our students.
Justsumstuff commented on 23-Feb-2012 06:39 AM
I agree: Listen to & Follow your instincts, don't ignore them. If your instincts say "don't trust" then don't trust. And listen to your kids, if they don't like someone, don't chastise your kids to "be polite & talk to them". Many children have the instinct
& we repress it.
Talli commented on 10-Mar-2012 09:25 PM
Great post, and SO true. I had a man wait for me outside the post office on a Saturday afternoon recently and ask me for 5 cents. " No, fresh out, sorry." I never looked away from him to give him a chance to surprise me. I told a few LE friends, and their
first response was, "Right, and if you had pulled out your wallet--BAM!" Thankfully, I got in my vehicle and he moved along, but it gave me a weird feeling!
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