Politing: the act of telling someone what you think they want to hear, rather than what you really believe
If someone hosts a dinner party, most (or all) of the guests will compliment the food (even if half of them do not like it). This is an example of what my friend Charlene and I call politing. There is a lot of politing in the world. Some of it is of the etiquette-manners variety, like complimenting someone’s food or house at a dinner party. All of it involves some form of self-censorship based on anticipating that not censoring would either make someone else feel bad, or make it less likely that you will be accepted socially.
In general, I prefer people who are not politers. I would rather occasionally hear a remark that stings a bit than to have people pretend to agree with me or tell me what they think I want to hear. If you think the photographs I have hanging on my walls are ugly, do not pretend to like them and then tell your friends how awful they are. I would actually love to know that you think they are awful — that’s interesting to me! We could have a conversation about it. If you do not like my ideas, do not pretend to agree to spare my feelings. I would love to know why you dislike them!*
All politing really shows is that you’ve learned society’s social rules. Congrats. But will anyone get to know your true feelings? A world where everyone is politing is a world with a lot of conformity and predictability, which seems a lot less interesting to me.
Like euphemism, politing seems to be aimed at presenting an unrealistically rosy picture of the world (“yay! everybody likes everything I do!”).
*FYI: the examples in that paragraph were not pulled from my personal life
**I suspect that part of the reason Curb Your Enthusiasm is so popular is because Larry David, in a lot of ways, is who we would like to be. Sure, he takes things too far sometimes, but he does not have the censor. He’s not wearing the straightjacket that most people are.