Etiquette

Undoubtedly, Politeness Prevails

By Melva Akens

James Ingram soulfully sings about finding 100 ways, Fawn Weaver, New York Times® best-selling author offers strategic and fresh ways to a happy marriage, and every day we search for ways to embrace that will leave a measurable amount of comradery.

Politeness, the unsolicited niceness that one human being extends to another is my offer. In this lifetime, the majority of uncertainty and friction is the result of the lack of politeness.  This lack has our world spinning out of control and yields surmountable confusing, disruption and disappointment.  Technology and dismissing manners have created a flu-like strain of patterns that isolate humans from civility and effective communication.

The much needed inoculation is a call for manners/etiquette/civility/being appropriate is long overdue. Should a gentleman give up his seat for a female or senior?  Is it appropriate for a woman to step aside when the elevator door opens to allow her client (who happens to be a male) to enter/exit first?  If you drop something on a public walkway should you stop and pick it up? Am I over extending by saying “thank you” to someone providing me with a service that I’m paying for?

Politeness is an easy and romantic gesture.  It is a profound humanitarian action that surpasses all other activity.  It surpasses because when one has the skill to get along with others well, she/he live a more comfortable and profitable life.   Each day we are faced with a barrage of choices and one of the best choices to make is the choice to do what’s right. Many struggle with this.  I would say at least there is an awareness and realization for the opportunity to empower one’s self.  Here’s a hint:

Being appropriate is knowing what to do and when to do it.  It’s about knowing the codes of conduct, and for each occasion and form of behavior known to man, there is a code of conduct!

The sure pleasure of knowing you brightened a portion of someone’s day surpasses the glory of almost everything! Believe me when I share that thanks to being polite, my personal life has been enriched with the unexpected prosperity (some received more than once) of:

  • Champagne brunch for two
  • Complimentary bottle of wine
  • Complimentary hotel accommodation
  • Job offer/career advancement
  • Invitation to run for public office
  • Complimentary dinner at a fine restaurant
  • Complimentary spa service
  • Concert tickets
  • Luxury vehicle
  • New business client
  • Social invitation

And let’s not overlook the most heartfelt award and highest form(s) of appreciation like respect and receiving a smile as the result of politeness.

The discussion of politeness should not be confused with being “too nice”.  Taking a stand on civility successfully exudes leadership, understanding, and respect.  It eliminates “drama” and makes it clear to others you have standards. It is the kind of behavior that’s expected and contributes to your personal, professional and social bottom-line. I ask you, who wouldn’t want to be associated with someone polished?

A survey on business etiquette was performed with several Fortune 500 corporations.  90% of the decision makers who participated in the survey stated the number one attribute for hiring a career professional is politeness or having business savvy.  They want to feel comfortable knowing the person representing their company will not embarrass or leave an impression that’s less than globally acceptable.  Further, the first point of contact with an applicant is via telephone. Words such as “hello”, “thank you”, “yes” and “good-bye” drastically impacted the candidate’s ability to move to the next level of interviewing.  These words weigh just as much as one’s skills and experience when qualifying for a career position at their place of business.  In most cases, the survey results related to applicants with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).   A pivotal point to mention is at the time of the survey, there was not a shortage of jobs; there was a shortage of politeness!

We’ve all heard the saying: people will forget what you said and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

One thing is for sure, if we ignore the call to politeness, the reasons for why there are 50 ways to leave your lover is an understated truth.

Melva Akens is an etiquette & styling consultant.  She also presents sessions, authors columns, and conducts research for news and lifestyle publications.

 

(Questions? Comments? Contact Melva at comments@seasonedchocolate.com)

 

Answers to Etiquette Questions:

Should a gentleman give up his seat for a female or senior?

Yes. A male of any age should offer his seat to a female of any age, to a man older than 21 years of age, and to anyone with a disability.

Is it appropriate for a woman to step aside when the elevator door opens to allow her client (who happens to be a male) to enter/exit first?

Yes. In business and regardless of gender, the client is always first. In the case of a superior and subordinate, the superior prevails.  The exception is if the client or superior states or motions for the other to go first.

If you drop something on a public walkway should you stop and pick it up?

Absolutely pick it up. Leaving something on a walkway or in any public location is a safety, health and courtesy issue.

Am I over extending by saying “thank you” to someone providing me with a service that I’m paying for?

You are not over extending.  Saying “thank you” is a sign of respect or appreciation. Refusing to acknowledge someone is ill behavior and parallels with refusing a handshake or ignoring someone when they greet you with “hello”.  On the other hand, if you are not happy with the service provided and do not wish to say “thank you”, your dissatisfaction should be immediately addressed in an honest and gentle manner.