That's just rude: why being polite may not be a universal concept

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


A French waiter hit the headlines in March 2018 when he contested his dismissal from a Canadian restaurant for his “aggressive tone and nature”. The waiter argued that his behaviour was due to his French manner, which he described as “more direct” than the Canadian approach, leading to the headline “Fired for being French”. So is politeness a universal concept? Or does our idea of what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour differ according to cultural identity?

Rudeness is defined as behaviour that violates social or organisational norms. Norms are our expectations of which behaviours are, or are not, appropriate or acceptable. For example, most people wouldn’t burst into song in the middle of a library, where the norm indicates you should be quiet.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2018


  • Workplace
  • Rudeness
  • Politeness
  • Cultural identity


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