Politeness Improves Communication

By Sean Dowdall, General Manager & CMO

Vancouver, British Columbia, is the politest city in the world. At least based on my recent experience there.

My husband and I just traveled to Vancouver for a long 4th of July weekend.  When we first planned the trip, we had no idea it would be Canada Day – Canada’s official founding day. And, it was Canada’s 150th anniversary!

Along with its incredible beauty, the most striking thing about Vancouver is that everyone is so polite. The service is amazing, drivers follow traffic rules, pedestrians and bike riders stay in their designated pathways – nearly every encounter is a cordial one. For the Canada Day festivities, there were massive crowds without incident. Hordes of people had fun without craziness and after spectacular fireworks, the crowds dispersed in an orderly fashion.

Vancouver really got me thinking about how politeness works to make communications more effective.  Some observations:

  • Politeness attracts positive attention. People notice mannerisms and tend to respond in kind. Seeing a smile or hearing one tends to make you smile too.
  • Politeness gives tough situations a chance to get turned around. We had a service issue at a restaurant. The manager apologized, acknowledged our point of view, took our suggestions under advisement and bought us lunch – all with a smile and calming anecdotes. We left as happy customers
  • Politeness gets your message delivered and responded to in the ways you want. When you communicate with courtesy and with a posture that seeks a positive outcome, that will likely get your message across without push back or dismissal. A polite person (or company) will have a stronger, more persuasive brand.

Let's Talk About Communicating

My trip to Vancouver impressed me. Since getting back, I’ve been very aware of how I can be politer. That’s my challenge to you and to my fellow Americans. How can we each individually and collectively as a nation be more polite? I think we’d all get a lot more accomplished and be happier too.


We don’t have to look far to get the world’s best example!

When has politeness led to a positive outcome for you? Leave a comment below or tweet @LandisComm.

11 thoughts on “Politeness Improves Communication

  1. Vancouver sounds like a very relaxing place for a trip! People will remember when someone is polite so it’s always a good way to be. Thanks Sean!

  2. Great topic, Sean. Growing up I was always told the number one rule of etiquette (or politeness) is to make the person you’re communicating with feel comfortable. I think most Americans (more than any other group I ever encountered) tend to forget this very basic rule. Also, hope to visit Canada soon!

  3. Sean, thank you for your nice words about Canada. As a Canadian, I have heard comments before about our politeness. I do, however, credit much of your experience to your positive attitude. While we may be polite, the positive experiences have as much to do with finding a willing partner as they do with our Canadian reputation. And of course, like any great guest, you are welcome back at any time.

  4. Politeness allows civilizations to develop. The energy used in adversarial situations is a waste – it can be put to much better purpose. As a Canadian ex-pat, it has always amazed at how aggression is often the first choice to resolving issues.

  5. Awwwww. Feeling very loved and appreciated – thank you Sean for your kind words. We try and set the bar high – you know the saying ” you get more with honey than vinegar”

  6. Makes me think of what was first the chicken or the egg. Are Canadians polite because they are happy or are they polite which makes them happy. All relationships are based on reciprocity and in most cases you will be treated the way you treat others. When there is an issue I always speak firmly and politely to upfront staff or first contact reps. on the phone. Then I speak with the managers if the issue remains unresolved. A little kindness goes a long way. I offer water or iced tea to any service worker who comes to my home.

  7. Being polite usually sets off a chain reaction of other polite gestures. It’s a good way to behave and I’m so glad our neighbors to the north have it figured out. Can’t wait to get to Vancouver one day.

  8. “Be kinder than necessary” is an adage I was taught from an early age. It would behoove ALL of us to follow this, and your advice of course! Thanks for sharing, Sean. 🙂

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