The Demise of Subtlety

January 14, 2011
A lazy Saturday afternoon and I am slouching on the sofa, watching an English movie, which I so wanted to watch for all this time.  My eyes glued to the TV, sometimes, my eyeballs drift down too, to read the subtitles appearing for a few seconds on the monitor.  I don’t want to miss out on any word!

My phone rings, I check the name of the caller from the corner of my eye for a fraction of a second! Its my friend Niharika (obviously, name changed!) calling.  Huff! I don’t want to annoy her, so I answer the phone.

 “Hi dear!”, my usual way of greeting my friends.  An equally warm response from the other side.

“How are you”?” I said.

After getting a suitable reply, I quickly added “even I am good, You know there’s this wonderful movie on HBO which I am watching…” and, there comes the next question “what is it about?”

The length of movie I’ve missed is dangerously increasing.  I close my eyes in disgust.  Did I not tell her I wanted to watch this movie??   She went on “ who are the actors?”  I tried saying it one more time – “ you know I had been waiting to watch it so…..” She did not get the hint even now.   She kind of wanted me to give her a live commentary of the movie!

I decided to say it straight now “Actually, I really want to watch this movie.  I’ll call you in the evening.” I imagined her frowned face, but her voice was uncreased as she said “bye” to me.

I wondered that those subtle ways of saying things have got lost somewhere out of this universe (probably through the black hole!).  The ways people interact with each other has become so much loud , so much “in your face”.

 If you are on a walking track of a park, and have the graciousness to give way to a lady (if you are man and reading this) or to a restless youngster, chances are your gesture wouldn’t be recognized at all, and for all you know, the next moment that person would be walking just in the middle of the path, as if marking his/her territorial rights on it!

If a lady happens to stand next to a ladies seat, occupied by a man, in a Metro or bus, and she chooses not to ask for the seat, chances are her presence will be ignored, and she won’t get it till she insists that she should get the seat.

You go to a CGHS/ Govt doctor and tell your problem in a sentence, chances are the Doctor would be finished with her prescription even before you finished your sentence! Unless, you tell her that you are neck deep in pain, she would not consider you as a serious patient!

Have you ever tried politely refusing to accept the product or services offered by a salesperson or a telecaller? I tried it, rather I do that mostly, that is being polite to them (as they have to bear the wrath of many).  So the telecaller girl, immediately shot back to me and said “WHY you don’t want it?” with extra emphasis on WHY.  I was outraged and had to shout back and tell her that it was none of her business. Huff! subtlety doesn’t work even here!

Subtlety in the actions of people is dying down.  When a thing is said politely, softly and in a civilized manner, it is considered as weakness.  Till the time, you don’t show your vocal power and you don’t use your imagination to exaggerate things (in case you are a patient), others don’t seem to take you seriously.

This is another side effect of our fast paced and competitive life that we no longer listen, we no longer feel, we no longer try to see other’s point of view or others’ problem.  Engrossed in our winning, earning, achieving ways, we forget to live and love the subtle way.

Don't you feel so... that being polite is taken as weakness..... being a soft spoken person means you would be huddled aside with someone more aggressive and more vocal... have you felt like that? Write to me.... I value your words.




Always Happy said...

hey restless,

true..people dont want to listen if you are toooooo polite. just yesterday, one of my colleagues approaches me while I was busy with my work- gets straight to the point - ''I want to ask you a huge favour that is to go through the file and bla bla bla''....first of all, she did not sorry for interrupting my work, secondly, she didnt even wait to hear if I was willing to do her work or not..she just assumed, I was going to do it for her and went on to explain what she wanted of me because I generally dont say 'no'. I have experienced similar things in the past too...people just bull dozing their way into mine.

Harish said...

hm.. same problem from which I am getting cured. I learned to say NO cut and dry on the face and my life- both professional and personal has turned for good.. Being polite is taken, or rather mistook as weakness.

Jack said...


I could not have put it any better. People take you for granted if you are polite or be nice. But still that is the way one should be.

Take care

PS : I have left my comments on previous posts too.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Well I'd start from the end of this post to the top.
No, being polite is not a weakness. I have seen this, in action, in person, in the form of someone very close and even after retiring from office for so many years, when he walks around, more people reach up to him just to pay regards. Now what would rudeness mean to such person.

And this happened before my very eyes. I was accompanying my friend to the dispensary and the lady doctor was well, basking in the winter sun. She did not even bother to come in for a check up. My friend went up to her and she asked what problem was he having. Having described his symptoms, she told him to go to the compounder and he'll give him the medicine and that she knew that what would be his problem and that is why she did not come to check him up. Well, send this doc to some emergency area where she can diagnose patients from the way they walk.

Perhaps, the world sometimes needs a punch in the mouth before they learn. I'll have to ask him or maybe train myself in 'How to piss off bugging people in a polite manner'.

Blasphemous Aesthete

Victor Guerra said...

While I have my sympathies for Niharika (nice name btw, though fictitious), I can't agree more with your helplessness, that you had to be a li'l blunt. Fair enough!
Yeah, subtlety sometimes pays back unfavorably, more often than not, in the form of us being taken for granted, besides others.
Not everybody understands subtlety and considerateness. For if everybody does, subtlety and considerateness wouldn't be valuable virtues anymore.

Nice observation dear friend.

Vivek Chamoli said...

Hi ,

How u doing?
Nice thought process :)
If we Look at every aspect of our life till now..and think ..we will notice that , we hv learned belatedly everything ...why so hmmm ..may be cause our inner institutive initiative taking instinct has taken a back seat or we hv closed doors to accept +ve vibes.
In CGHS , I really hv tough time , 1st they have 2 types of medicine allotting system indent and dispensary ...and more-over Docs are fyn but long lines are tiresome.
but Guys @ dispensary adds salt to your wounds ..too lazy ..

yes being polite sometime is taken as our weakness bur thats is manageable.

I hate ppl using abusive lang.
In call dept I'm lucky ..I never gets call as I have blocked the unwanted calls.

Vee... said...

I guess that happens to almost everyone of us, being nice often leads to the case that we will be taken for granted.

Here is something different to add from me. The state I live in the US - Minnesota - is stereotyped as the state with nice people, and it is infact true. Even though the people don't want to be rude, they put it in a totally nice way. The words "Your friend is interesting" from the people here doesn't necessarily mean so, but they put it in the nicest way!
Btw, which english movie were you watching when this thing happened? Being a movie freak in my own way, I couldn't resist asking you about it. :P

Pratibha Mohanty said...

I find this to be very true... Most of the times our politeness is taken as our weakness....

DuDo said...

Well some things happen unexpectedly. I think after reading this your friend will realise...

You have really wonderful posts.

Keep blogging!



Zephyr said...

That is a very insightful post. but like you did, one can be polite while saying no to your friend. but with brazen salespeople you might require to be a little more forceful while saying no. And yes, the demise of subtlety is the root cause for rage, which is the topic of my post!!

Prateek said...

I put my cellphone on silent. :P
No cellphone, no Tring-Tring

But an interruption which irks me the most is falling of people out of nowhere into my house when I'm in the middle of a movie, they jeopardize the story, resulting in lots and lots of harsh words and curses.

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Always happy - i can understand how u felt!

Harish - learning to say No took me some time too! ATB!

Jack - yes sure being polite is better any day. yeah,i saw them too. thanks!

AB - u get respected due to ur conduct, rightly said. loved the last line!!!


A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Vivek - i know, so right. bad language is a no no.

Vee- yeah, be nice and be taken for a ride! will tell u!

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Victor - yeah, it's a nice name :)
Very well said... each and every word!

Pratibha- glad u agree with it. welcome!

DuDo- thanks ! and Welcome !

Zephyr - I know, we wrote posts which complemented each other! thanks for visiting :)

Prateek - huff! I know! oh if u switch off the mobile, they will call on the land line!!

Stay subtle!


Prashant said...

nicely written.. subtle yet a definite shoot-from-the-hip piece of writing..!!! anyhow this reminded me of an instance i went through a couple of months before..

..there was this occassion when a friend of mine called me on my cell and asking me whether i am home...i was actually preparing for an exam then and was on leave... he said he would drop in just to say 'hi'... when i insisted that i was studying for an exam which was to happen three days after, he continued 'Oh! i am actually standing jsut below your apartment block, and i thought i will drop in and say hello..'

all i could say was a meek 'okay, come up'... when actually i wanted to say 'y you wanted to come...??"

25BAR said...

Yes, some people handle things better than others. Some are masters.

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Prashant - thanks!!!

Oh, i know, it happens many a times... when u can't say what u want to!!!

25 BAR - :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails