Today I’m thinking about manners – manners at home and manners in business. Manners online and manners offline.
As I was driving around my home town today, yet another motorist pulled from a merging lane in front of me – I gave way, which I didn’t have to do – I then waited for an acknowledgement of that act. But nothing happened. The driver didn’t wave, flash lights or in any way say ‘thanks’ for that.
I realised how quickly we will judge people when they act without manners – and the truth is that man probably didn’t give it a second thought. He probably didn’t even realise or care that I thought he’d been rude. However if I met him again how would I feel about him? Hardly a good first impression.
There are, of course, times in our lives when we don’t really care how people ‘feel’ about us. That’s normal. Frankly, sometimes people deserve it and we have to stand up for ourselves.
However in most business scenarios, the way we make people feel is very important. It’s so easy to annoy, upset or irritate someone when we’ve actually done nothing wrong. People can be affected by other factors which have nothing to do with our behaviour. However at that particular moment, we may annoy or anger someone simply by being there – or even by not being there.
So why would anyone risk making someone feel negative by not doing something as simple as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on a regular, daily basis? Manners are, for me, a sign of being both professional but empathetic. It means the person I’m engaging with is considering me and engaging with me at a personal level. I respond well to anyone who:
*allows me to go through a door first – be they male or female.
* ensures when they are with me they are not distracted by other things eg. a mobile phone.
* says thank you at appropriate moments.
I feel my heckles rise if someone:
* talks to me as though they are issuing commands – no matter what they are talking about.
* takes a telephone call or starts texting or reading on their phone during a conversation (unless there’s an emergency)
* chooses to respond to any kind of communication by ignoring it.
I’m not just talking about business here. My son has a birthday party soon and has invited a handful of children. Several parents have already let me know they can attend. Some have not. Of those, two parents have told me their child cannot attend but only because I’ve had to chase them. Where are the manners in that? If I had not chased, my child is denied an opportunity of inviting other friends in their stead. Also if they just don’t turn up on the day, I have to pay for them, whether or not they attend. This is, to me, the height of bad manners. I make a point of always letting fellow parents know a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as soon as possible. I’m often staggered at some people’s capacity to completely disregard the needs of others.
Don’t be afraid to share your bad manners (or great manners) stories with me. I’d love to hear them and I might share some if that’s okay.