Good manners are said to be ageless, classless and priceless.
Recently, I visited a well-known electronics store in town to buy a computer part. For those not in the know, this store stocks numerous electronics, computer parts, gadgets, phones etc. The set-up is such that you have the shop assistants attending to the customers in a rather chaotic and noisy fashion all over the floor whilst in strategic corners around the shop the “owners” sit on chairs behind counters keeping a mindful eye on proceedings.
Whilst I was there, one of the owners was on his cell phone walking up and down whilst screaming all manner of obscenities at the unfortunate person on the other end of the line. Never mind the store was full of customers – this man was either oblivious to the fact or he wanted to make a point to everyone that he was not to be messed around with. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife, it was so palpable. Customers were practically cowering and my jaw was literally on the floor as this guy was ranting and raving loudly in language that would make a soldier blush. I asked the sales person helping me if this was normal and he muttered under his breath that it happened practically every day.
When looking at the ABC’s of personal branding – appearance, behaviour and communication, behaviour is the glue that holds the staff of an organisation together. Those of us who speak, write and coach others on personal branding have declared rudeness to be rampant for some time and have seen the toll it has taken especially in the office. Bullying, profanity and insensitivity are making work lives unpleasant and as a result, customer service and productivity are suffering. It goes without saying that good manners in the workplace need to come from the top. When the tone is set from the top down, civility becomes part of the company culture. Leave alone the effect on customers (I for one will never shop there again) but studies show that a large percentage of all employees choose to leave rather than put up with this kind of uncivil behaviour – a clear impact to how efficiently a business runs.
Does civility matter in business and is it even necessary at all?
Good manners are said to be ageless, classless and priceless. If we can raise people’s level of behaviour by increasing their awareness of others as well as giving confidence and self-esteem, we may lessen hostility and aggression, and who knows – the world might become a slightly happier place. Good manners never go out of style and are crucial in business. Research has shown your technical ability and academic qualifications account for as little as 15 per cent of getting a job and progressing within an organisation, and as much as 85 per cent really boils down to your people skills and how you navigate office politics. At the crux of this is how you relate to other people – are you the congenial office colleague or the co-worker from hell.
Civility underpins all good business relationships and it does not take any more effort to be nice than it does to be rude and it is one of the things in life that is still free. If we all followed the guidelines of good manners and mutual respect, we would treat each other more kindly, behave more honestly and enjoy greater professional success. People with good manners treat others cordially, think of others before themselves and have respect for each other. People buy from people and so better manners mean better business. Having good manners is an essential business tool and it is vital to take a survey at your place of work on whether lack of civility is harming your business or the cost of overall performance. Bad manners can cost businesses by contributing to loss of revenue and increased customer loss and decreased employee morale.
One of the leading companies in the area of business etiquette, The Emily Post Institute, did a workplace study on manners and the results were as follows:
Of the 775 persons who had an uncivil act committed against them, 28 per cent lost work time by avoiding the instigator. A further 53 percent lost work time through stressing over the event. 22 percent experienced decreased work effort and 12 per cent actually quit their job. You do the math in terms of the negative business impact incivility may be having at your workplace.