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The very essence of politeness seems to be to take care that by our words and actions we make other people pleased with us as well as with themselves.

[Il me semble que l’esprit de politesse est une certaine attention à faire que par nos paroles et par nos manières les autres soient contents de nous et d’eux-mêmes.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 5 “Of Society and Conversation [De la Société et de la Conversation],” § 32 (5.32) (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The Politeness of the Mind is a certain care to make us pleasing by our discourses and manners to our selves and others.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

Politeness seems to be a certain Care, by the manner of our Words and Actions, to make others pleas'd with us and themselves.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

Politeness seems to be a Care to model our Discourses and Manners so as to please ourselves and others.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

It seems to me that the spirit of politeness lies in taking care to speak and act in such a way as to make others pleased with us and with themselves.
[tr. Stewart (1970)]
Added on 31-Jan-23 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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Don’t consider how many you can please, but whom.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 599 [tr. Lyman, Jr. (1862)]
Added on 28-Aug-15 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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Please all, and you will please none.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
Fables [Aesopica], “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey” (6th C BC) [tr. Jacobs (1894)]

Alternate translation: "By endeavoring to please everybody he had pleased nobody." [tr. James (1848), "The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass"]
Added on 21-Aug-15 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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You will find that he takes care never to say or do anything, that can be construed into a slight, or a negligence; or that can, in any degree, mortify people’s vanity and self-love; on the contrary, you will perceive that he makes people pleased with him by making them first pleased with themselves: he shows respect, regard, esteem and attention, where they are severally proper: he sows them with care, and he reaps them in plenty.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #214 (18 Jan 1750)

On a proper role model to imitate.
Added on 14-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Oct-22
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The only wa tu pleze evra boddy, is tu make evry boddy think yu ar a bigger fule than tha ar.

[The only way to please everybody is to make everybody think you are a bigger fool than they are.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist, aphorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
His Sayings, ch. 45 (1867)
Added on 7-Aug-15 | Last updated 7-Aug-15
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If you mean to profit, learn to please.

Charles Churchill (1732-1764) English poet and satirist
Gotham, 2.1.8 (1764)
Added on 24-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jul-15
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To serve the Public faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1758)
Added on 17-Jul-15 | Last updated 17-Jul-15
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