I walked with a friend to the newsstand the other day, and he bought a paper, thanking the owner politely. The owner, however, did not even acknowledge it.
“A sullen fellow, isn’t he?” I commented as we walked away.
“Oh, he’s that way every time,” shrugged my friend.
“Then why do you continue being so polite to him?” I asked.
My friend replied, “Why should I let him determine how I’m going to act?”
The man’s friend acts towards people; most of us react towards them. He has a sense of inner balance; he knows who he is, what he stands for, how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility for incivility, because then he would no longer be in command of his own conduct. To let another determine whether we shall be rude or gracious is to relinquish control over our own personalities.