As I've journeyed through life and met umpteen people both profesionally and privately, there are three qualities that have always stood out for me: consideration, kindness and manners. Consideration for the position and feelings of others, kindness towards those in need of it, and manners in your dealings with everyone you meet.
This post has been inspired by the lovely David McQueen, who encountered poor manners in business a few days ago. How anyone could be rude to Dave I cannot work out, as he is generous with his time as well as his talents, and treats everyone with respect.
It got me thinking however about the importance of good manners in our business dealings, and the damage we can do if we let ourselves descend into rudeness or plain disregard.
Trust in me
What does it to to your standing- and that of your organisation- if you're rude, inconsiderate or fail to keep a promise? Trust is damaged or evaporates all together. You're not making their dealings with you pleasant or friendly, and you're certainly not making it easy for them to do business with you. When the deal's done show appreciation. Follow up to see how they're doing, and if they need anything. Be considerate to their needs and position.
There are a myriad of ways to vent about rudeness or poor treatment. No longer do people reach for the 'letter of complaint' kit or prepare to spend ages on hold to express their frustration; thanks to social media, their reactions are far more instant - and potentially far more damaging. (It's great when companies get it right, of course.)
Don't dismiss their concerns with a standard, stagnant response- or even worse ignore them.
If you're found to be rude, your brand can suffer, your reputation is tarnished and if the other party's co-operation is essential for the benefit of others in your organisation, you've stitched your colleagues up too. Guess who'll be off a fair few Christmas card lists?
Sadly we live in an era where someone just doing their job is too often considered 'great service.' A thought on this: No.
Doing what's needed or explaining politely why they can't do it and finding an alternative way forward is the bare minimum. Great service- and great moments- come from that human connection that stretches beyond the standard to deliver something that's truly exceptional. Stuff like this, from someone at Sainsbury's who clearly likes their job.
Not being rude is not enough to be great.
If basic courtesy is what you do, fine. I don't want you to fawn over me or anyone else if it's really not your thing. Just be consistent, or I'll wonder why I'm being treated differently to others.
Leave it at the door
In short, nobody cares if you're busy, your dog kept you up all night or if you've fallen out of love with your job - park it. They don't identify with your issues while they have one of their own to resolve.
Basic politeness is a human need, and if you don't deliver, they'll be off to find it somewhere else- badmouthing you all the way.
And you know, that really is your loss.