Why The French Are So Rude

Why The French Are So Rude

Last week my brother-in-law and I went to scout out a new Summit Leaders trip. It was a whirlwind 3-day trip. We spent our final day in Chamonix, France. Now, I love all things French. I’ve never felt anything but kindness from any French person I’ve met. But when I asked a security guard a question I was reminded of a stereotype.

In French I asked, “Does this elevator go to the observation deck?” The guard was looking directly at me, but he acted like he hadn’t heard me. So, I asked again. He kept ignoring me. So I asked again. Finally the guard turned and scowled. He said:

“In France we begin by saying bonjour before we begin a conversation. It’s polite. Yes, that elevator goes to the observation deck.”

Normally if someone spoke that way to me I would have gotten pretty ticked. But I love the French so much that I stopped and listened. I realized that I was the problem here. I realized how rude I must have seemed busting out a question without being cordial first. Rude American!

I started thinking about how that conversation would have gone down had I been expecting the French to be rude – like their stereotype. I probably would have been on guard, just waiting for someone to be mean to me. The moment I sensed a hint of it I would have gotten angry. But instead, I actually evaluated myself and learned a powerful lesson in politeness.

Believing the worst about people is easy. It takes no effort. But believing the best takes courage. It requires believing that people have something good within them and most of them are trying their best to do what’s right. Sure, believing the best can lead to some bumps and bruises. Some people are mean. But I’m convinced that the world would be a whole lot better place if we started believing the best in others – even if they seem rude and harsh. Maybe they are thinking the same thing about us.

Be courageous enough to give people the benefit of the doubt. Believe the best about others – no matter who they are or where they are from.