Friday, October 12, 2007

Encourage but not insist?

Some people say that it is fine to encourage people to remove their shoes, but one should not insist that they do so.

There is a fine line between insisting on people removing their shoes and encouraging people to take them off. There are a number of things one could say that are subtle encouragements:

We take our shoes off here.

You might like to take your shoes off.

These imply strongly that the host wants the guest to remove her shoes. I do not see that insisting or asking is worse than encouraging. If you encourage people to take their shoes off, then you have started from the assumption that people will be willing to take them off. By encouraging, you apply a degree of moral pressure to comply.

I think a lot of people would not want the uncertainty of just being encouraged. I was dating a girl a few years ago when I was not 100% sold out to the shoes-off rule. She asked me if she should remove her shoes. I told her that we removed our shoes but she did not have to. She was actually uncomfortable at this answer and asked me whether I wanted her to take them off or not.

Sometimes it is simpler just to be straight with people and ask them to remove their shoes. No need to beat around the bush.


richyrich said...

It reminds me of an experience I once had with a lady whom I invited into my house. As soon as we got through the door (I hadn't told her anything about my shoes off preference before) I just took off my shoes automatically without saying anything and she then asked me
"Do you want me to take my boots off as well?"
and I replied
"Well it's up to you (my mistake in saying that I know)but I always take mine off as soon as I come in because I have cream coloured carpets and I am trying to make the effort to keep them as spotless as possible"
She then said
"So you would prefer me to take them off then"

"Well it is up to you but do you have any problem with taking them off?"
"Well it's just that it would be a lot of hassle putting them back on afterwards (she had knee high boots), anyway they are not dirty"
And at that point I let it go. I realised afterwards that maybe I should have been firmer. However I later learned that she had some back problems so maybe she had a point when she said that putting her boots back on could have been problematic.

She came to see me again a little later, with me answering the door on that occasion, and I was rather disappointed that she didn't even offer to take off her shoes then (although she was just wearing ordinary shoes rather than boots then)but I didn't raise the issue then.

I probably shoudln't have implied that she had a choice in the matter the first time round. What do you think?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Well, I just hostes a shoeless party this evening and they were all were okay about it (Post more tomorrow; I had two beers so I better not post too much now. No good posting when you have been drinking).

If somebody has back problems, then that is a good reason for them to be excused, but I think it is better to be firm in stating your preference and the lady you mention seemed to have picked up on that.

God Bless