I wrote an article a few years ago on common courtesy and it struck a chord with many people. It seems that people today do not have good manners which is a shame. A simple “please” or “thank you” can go a long way in gaining one’s attention and respect.
It goes beyond that in terms of being courteous to others. As an executive recruiter, it amazes me how many potential candidates treat me and my clients poorly. It is not only that they do not send me their resume when they are supposed to, but they also show up late to the client meeting or not return phone calls or emails in a timely fashion. Needless to say, their candidacy is in jeopardy and will make a lasting impression on me for future searches.
Holding a door for someone or giving up your seat on a bus or train for an elderly person or pregnant woman seems rare too. On Facebook, there was a photo of a young grocery clerk walking an elderly man to his home with his groceries; people who commented were somewhat shocked that someone would take the time to do this, but shouldn’t everyone? Wouldn’t it be a much nicer place to live if people took a second and showed good manners?
A pet peeve of mine is thank you notes. I always write them and I make my children do the same. It is a five-minute exercise to acknowledge a gift or money that one has received for a birthday or other occasion. Not only does it let the giver know you received it, but it also shows appreciation for them taking the time to make us feel special so we should do the same in return. Thank you notes should also be sent after an interview even if it is just an exploratory one; handwritten notes versus email or typed notes make a statement that you want this job or are thankful that someone was willing to meet you to provide you with industry knowledge or advice. Even if you do sent it via email, do so within 24 hours of the meeting.
Try this exercise for two days. Keep track of how many times you use good manners and think about the reactions of others. If you fall short, determine why that is and make more of an effort to be courteous to others. It can be as simple as asking the name of the customer service rep you are speaking to on the phone and ending the call by saying “Thank you Joanne for all your help. Have a great day!” Is that so difficult to do?
Finally, express good manners with a smile. When my children were younger, they would begrudgingly say “please” so you knew their heart wasn’t into it. Instead I make an effort to smile even if it is someone I am speaking to over the phone. That positive energy comes across and it will make the other person feel good which should make your day brighter too.