Friday, June 20, 2014

Never Too Busy for Courtesy

By Pam Hadder

The Blame Game
Some blame it on technology, some blame it on the fast pace of living, and some blame it on an uncertain economic future, but basic courtesy is falling by the wayside - on that point most of us can agree!  You will have your own examples, but maybe you can relate to some of these: no response to emails, voice mail hell versus living voices, and service people who begin talking before you can communicate your needs.  At SWJ, we still believe that basic courtesy is essential, so regardless of the underlying causes, we are never too busy or too jaded for basic courtesy.  Not only does courtesy assist with efficient use of time and resources, courtesy is noticed and appreciated and it builds collegial relationships; whether by digital communication, by phone or in person.  Committing to basic courtesy shows our respect for others and that we appreciate their time and contribution.  Basic courtesy is the first vehicle we use to acknowledge other human beings - it tells others that they matter.

Everything New is Old Again
It's not NEW - the trend began several years ago.  SWJ used to send out seasonal promo items to key suppliers and clients.  Although we sent thousands, we could count the thank you responses on one hand! After years of this we have opted to support a select number of worthwhile community causes instead.  For example, donations to a local theatre group working for social justice, a pizza party for a core area daycare or educational support for a single parent.  We find that these small gestures of support are always acknowledged with a sincere thank you.  However, when we mail out correspondence of any kind - supplier client, personal or service - we are somewhat mystified as to why people do not acknowledge receipt. It takes repeated follow up by phone or email to cajole, or sometimes extrude, a response. We hate to use the dreaded "Request a Delivery Receipt" or "Request a Read Receipt" but sometimes, in a critical business context, we have to resort to robotic insistence for some acknowledgement.

Bucking the Trend
I recently read in an online forum that if we are frustrated by the epidemic lack of basic courtesy, we can address the problem by: a) committing to basic courtesy ourselves; and by b) embracing random acts of courtesy every day - such as opening a door for a busy parent with kids in tow, taking out garbage for an elderly or infirm neighbour, letting a car merge into a busy traffic lane, or stopping to allow pedestrians to safely cross a street versus rushing to turn our vehicles ahead of them.

WE Still Matter
Yes, we are all working harder with greater uncertainty - and yes, technology is training us all to be knee-jerk reactionaries who sometimes confuse social media with in-person realities. Rather than normalizing aggression and rudeness, consider that basic lesson of leadership; we are each capable of influence and our actions affect others, whether or not we consciously connect to or buy into those impactful realities.