Slaying the academicese about a pink slip this side of forty

Hugs or Gloves

Manners, please. I remind Amaiya and Stone everyday to use manners. Please, thank you, and you’re welcome. Positively important, right? Not so much?

I recently read an article on how politeness strategies adapt as cultural needs change…or do they?

“There are a variety of theories about politeness, but one of the most well-known is that of the linguistic anthropologists Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, who have posited the notions of “negative politeness” and “positive politeness.”

Negative politeness involves such distancing behavior as not encroaching on others by showing deference, hedging and so on. Positive politeness encompasses approachable conduct that makes the other person feel accepted and appreciated, like complimenting, joking and making offers.”

Living in Oklahoma, an extreme positive politeness region, after living in Japan, a notorious negative politeness region, has led to some interesting situations. Of course, you salt and pepper in the other regions I briefly called home, and a clear-as-mud picture begins to emerge concerning how I expect others to treat me and how I am expected to treat others. I don’t know when and how to approach, nor when and how to tell others not to encroach…makes hugging a real bitch!

The article continues,

[There is a] “hidden thirst” for positive politeness, suggesting that the great popularity of Tokyo Disneyland owes much to the warmly welcoming behavior of Mickey and the other characters, who transcend social norms of interaction. Visitors relish the non-verbal positive politeness, which, because it is not spoken, averts the “tragedy” of Japanese spoken communication–namely, that there is no linguistic distinction between closeness and rudeness. Speaking in an intimate way involves speaking informally, but speaking informally is also what is done when one intends to be rude, alas.”

The author concludes noting that while Mickey Mouse indeed hugs and is approachable, he still still wears gloves – a throwback to a better time when white gloves were worn on formal occasions – oh, how I miss those times!

So which is it, hugs or gloves? Let me be the first to say that my children should not learn this set of social skills, whose sole purpose is to establish all parties feeling affirmed in a situation, from me. Kari is well suited for this!

If you must know, I prefer gloves!

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