Shoes or no shoes -- for heaven's sake, BE NICE about it!

gellchomJanuary 9, 2008

Two strings currently going on have stirred up some very strong emotions about shoes in the house.

I still believe that there is no "right" answer -- people simply disagree, and there are good points on both sides.

What is alarming is the hostile tone in some of the posts, like this one about the pine floor: "I would have had no compunction about telling her to take the shoes off or march her high heel hooves right out of the house. Relationships can be mended easily, floor can't."


I'm sorry, I can certainly respect someone's having a no-shoe policy, and I will not say that such a person values possessions over people. But to say something that nasty to anyone -- let alone a guest in your home -- that I cannot respect. I also think that besides its being a no-win argument, it isn't right to address the issue by telling your guests that they are WRONG about shoes in the house and that THEY are rude if they don't automatically remove them before entering yours.

Several other posters suggested tactful and kind ways to protect the floor in the case of the guest with the spike heels. I am sure that the same principle can be applied to ASK all your guests to remove their shoes if that is your policy.

How do insults or arguments protect the floor -- let alone the relationship -- better than courtesy?

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Nancy zone 6

I do agree. I'm surprised at how some people phrase things. Perhaps they have more determined/thoughtless friends than I have though, who require more than a hint. I don't require people to take their shoes off when they enter my home, but I am not offended if I am asked politely to remove my shoes when I enter someone else's home. I have friends who do require this, and they ask nicely despite sometimes having to remind me :) Unnecessary rudeness takes care of the problem though if you have no friends to scar up the floor.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 10:03AM
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More and more people are opting out of carpeted floors for hardwood or laminate floors. I notice this when I am in homes doing electrical work. Most hardwood floors are impervious to foot damage. If you are using a softer wood perhaps area rugs would be appropriate.

We have had the occasion to be in the home of some Chinese friends where removing shoes is the custom. They always provide slippers for their guests.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 9:53AM
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Okay, here's my two cents worth.

Two of the homes I lived in had beautiful oak floors. I did not ask anyone to remove their shoes but some of the times, I wished I did. Had my share of spike heel dings and also had the guest who dug her heels into my floor.

I did have a guest who had a child who took potato chips, dropped them and stomped on them into my floor. I asked her nicely to please stop, and her mother was indignant about it. She then proceeded to take one of the metal jacks that the older children were playing with and dug a gouge so deep into my floor that in order for the floor to be repaired it would have been major. I learned to live with it but truthfully, it did bother me. Needless to say, that was the last invite for her and her mother.

The home that I live in now in New England has light beige carpeting, brand new. I did not install it; the previous owner did when he put the home on the market. It shows everything.

Even when the weather was bad, I did not ask anyone to take off their shoes, and my carpets paid the price. After paying to get the carpets cleaned when the man from the oil company trudged oily grime throughout the home, I decided in inclement weather to ask people to wipe their shoes on the mat by the doors.

I haven't had to do much asking as most people here automatically take off their shoes when the weather is bad, and I do the same when I visit. Most workmen are good about that also; they come with their booties that fit over their shoes.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 11:15AM
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This might interest some...

Here is a link that might be useful: the topic on 2001

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 7:36PM
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When I am upset I articulate my feelings as such. I really abhor those people that are sickenly sweet to your face and then tear you up the minute you leave - much better to get it out and deal with it than to cover it up with euphemisms and sugar. That's just fake and fake is transparent to the trained eye. Sometimes you need to call it like you see it. I'd much rather live in a world where people are honest than one where they are "nice". Besides, these forums can fall victim to the same old self-adulation and Pollyannaism amongst members and every now and then they need an injection of raw sass to put things in perspective and keep it real. The Internet is not a place for fragile sensibilities and virgin ears or eyes.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 12:33AM
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So sleepy, in your world, there are two types - the fake, and the offensive.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 12:52AM
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How is,

"Oh, dear, I just noticed that your boot heels and my floor don't seem very compatible! Could I get you a pair of slippers to put on, or maybe a rug to put down? Thanks so much for understanding."

any less "honest" than

"You *&^%%#!! inconsiderate boor!!! Every civilized person knows that no decent person wears shoes indoors!! Get your ^%$#!! hooves off my wood floor!"

? If getting the message across politely and letting the other person be gracious isn't enough, then it isn't just the floors at issue: it's the need to force others to acknowledge that YOU ARE RIGHT and THEY ARE WRONG.

"When I am upset I articulate my feelings as such," you write, with the implication being that others who aren't confrontational are hiding their TRUE feelings, which are like the second example above. Sleepyhollow, please consider that NOT everyone is secretly cursing out their guests. People who are being polite or kind aren't always insincere -- maybe they really feel that way.

I'm not saying that anyone who inwardly screams when they see their floors being dented or something is a bad person. But I also don't think it's fair to assume that anyone who doesn't get aggressive is hypocritically sugar-coating his/her real feelings. Many people prefer to be gentle in their requests and criticisms; it's part of being -- genuinely -- respectful.

Believe me, I am no "sugar and spice" person -- anyone who knew me would laugh. To the contrary; I'm way too outspoken. But I learned long ago that tact and kindness not only make life more pleasant; they are a lot more effective, too.

I know that if I felt that someone considered me part of a "herd" or confronted me aggressively every time s/he wanted me to do something she was RIGHT about, instead of just asking me, I would feel attacked and defensive and therefore find it harder, not easier, to listen openly to her thoughts.

Consider: do you feel that your strongly-worded posts have been effective in persuading anyone in these discussions, about shoes or "niceness" or anything else? If not, perhaps you believe that it is due to others' "self-adulation and Pollyannaism." But just maybe you would have made your points more effectively and changed a few minds some other way.

To what do YOU respond better yourself? Scolding and confrontation, or respect and consideration?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 4:35PM
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Yes, it is interesting how hostile people get when they're feeling defensive. I love wood flooring, not only for its own beauty but because it shows off our many beautiful Oriental rugs. "Patina" is one of those things that (sometimes) one accepts in some ways but not in others. Some folks love stainless steel sinks or marble countertops for that aged look; I know that would drive me crazy so I'd never even attempt it!

There's scratches on my hardwood floors and unremovable spots on some of my rugs. Well, that's life - and no matter how valuable or costly those things are, they are worthless compared to the joy of having my friends around. But we live in the city, so not a lot of mud or grease being tracked in.

Of course, if all these evil floor-bashing things are being done by people who AREN'T my friends, then I'd really have to wonder why I wanted to have them over in the first place.....

I've had stuff dropped on the rugs and floors and the guilty party has always been wholeheartedly apologetic and upset about it. In fact many people try to take their shoes off in my house and I tell them honestly I'd rather they didn't. Looking at socks and naked toes isn't my thing, and I don't keep spare slippers around.

Does the house get dirtier when people wear shoes inside? Probably. Do I care? Nope.

I'm with you, gellchom. Rudeness masquerading as "self-expression" remains rudeness, no matter how the boorish try to justify it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 10:57PM
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