Friday, June 20, 2008

Encourage but not insist?

re-post

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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did she take them off at last? Did she really like it but feared you would dislike her removing shoes, or did she just want to follow your shoes-off rules reluctantly?

About insisting/encouraging:
I think it depends on where you are. Here in Georgia, a host may insist on a guest's not removing shoes, but actually want him/her to remove them. It is thought a hospitable host must do like this, but a polite guest should de-shoe anyway.
Sometimes one may see quite funny situations in the lobby :) A host may try to disturb your unlacing/unzipping your shoes/boots, but you do it anyway :) If in pumps, girls can be hardly disturbed 'cause they just dip them :)
My attitude to the problem depends on my status in a situation. As a visitor, kicking of my shoes is the first thing I do when entering. So, I rid hosts of any efforts to choose between encouraging and insisting:) At the same time, I appreciate when they don’t try to stop me. It makes me sure they appreciate my way to respect their home. Otherwise, I still take my shoes off in most cases: I think I shouldn’t be a conformist and shouldn’t do anything I consider wrong just because other people (hosts in the case) think, or for some reasons want to seem they do, differently. However, it’s always nicer to meet people who you are sure share your beliefs than those who maybe think differently. My shoes-on exceptions have been very few (5-6 occasions that I can recall): some formal receptions where everybody was in shoes. BTW, sometimes, at some parties, I am the only person without my shoes on. Why I “dare” to de-shoe there and avoid doing that at “some formal receptions”? If I see a host without shoes, it is enough for me to take mine off even if all other guests haven’t removed theirs. If I see that a host is in shoes and the occasion is a formal party, I still become a shoes-on conformist :( I excuse it as a necessity not to scare the people off before I can explain to them how good the shoes-off policy is :) Once again, this option works only if there is a VERY formal party. In all other cases, I would always remove my shoes even if all the host family wore theirs (though I’ve never faced such situations).
I’ve told I kick off my shoes before a host can show which policy he/she follows :) Yet I’d appreciate being politely asked to remove my footwear. First, it means I can comfortably unlace without being disturbed :). Second, it means the host shows I can feel at home.
Yet the situation may be different. I read, somewhere in the Internet, an opinion by a Polish woman. Poland is AFAIK a shoes-off country. So this woman said she always removed her shoes at people’s places, but didn’t like to be told to. She thinks she must be given a right to choose.
Freedom to choose is an indigenous human right. Human responsibility for a choice is yet also indigenous. Some actions are just common, and nobody even thinks to offer an alternative. If somebody told me I was allowed to do things I consider inappropriate, I’d be offended. At the same time, if somebody told me I was NOT allowed to do so, I would be offended as well. Both cases would mean this person considered me willing to act in a way I can’t accept. This would be the reason of my feeling insulted but not that I would be deprived of freedom to choose!
Thus, if the woman from Poland dislikes being told she mustn’t be in her shoes, I share her dislike of being thought about as an ill-bred person. If she just wants to have “a choice”, I find it meaningless.
Back to national peculiarities, the same phrase may be accepted differently in different cultures. What is encouraging in one country, may be found rude in another. Personally, I prefer an open friendly manner to ask a guest for shoes-off, yet I have to take such sensitivity into consideration. Anyway, nobody leaves his/her shoes on at my place, and nobody feels offended because 1) shoes-off is rather common here 2)I am likely to be a good diplomat )

Celestial Fundie said...

I do wish all my visitors would share their thoughts as fully as you do. It is great the way you give this subject so much consideration.

'Did she take them off at last?'

She did, though she kept them on sometimes in summer. She did get some indoor flip flops to wear, but she sometimes kept her outdoor sandals on.

If I dated somebody now who did that, I would have objected.

"Here in Georgia, a host may insist on a guest's not removing shoes, but actually want him/her to remove them."

I suspect you get that here in Britain. It is very silly in my opinion. It turns doorway encounters into a farce.

"At the same time, I appreciate when they don’t try to stop me. It makes me sure they appreciate my way to respect their home."

It is really interesting that you think that. This shows that the "Oh, you don't have to take your shoes off here" line is not always appreciated.

"I’ve told I kick off my shoes before a host can show which policy he/she follows :) Yet I’d appreciate being politely asked to remove my footwear. First, it means I can comfortably unlace without being disturbed :). Second, it means the host shows I can feel at home."

It would be nice to be asked sometime. I am sure one day I shall visit a home where I get asked before I can take mine off.

"I read, somewhere in the Internet, an opinion by a Polish woman. Poland is AFAIK a shoes-off country. So this woman said she always removed her shoes at people’s places, but didn’t like to be told to."

I think I mentioned this person a while ago. That is a bizarre attitude.

Sorry what does AFAIK mean?

God Bless

Matthew

Celestial Fundie said...

Oh, let me guess- AFAIK means 'as far as I know.'

And you are correct about Poland. It seems to be that way across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Anonymous said...

My late checking for the update has made it necessary to confirm, but I will do it: yes, AFAIK means as far as I know )

Anonymous said...

sorry, I meant "unnecessary" )

Anonymous said...

I've forgotten to ask you for specifying: did the girl remove her shoes because you had finally asked her to, or did she just decide she had to?

Celestial Fundie said...

I suppose she knew it was what we generally did adn what was expected of her.

Though she was less consistent about it in summer.