THE BLOG

What's Happened to Common Courtesy?

06/12/2015 02:59 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2016

I may be old fashioned, but when I was little I was taught to always be polite, respect others, and to have good manners. I have tried to stick with those basic, common courtesies in everyday and professional life. Unfortunately, I often find myself in situations where people don't feel the same.

Common courtesy has all but died. People scream into their cell phones while I'm trying to enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant. They cut me off in traffic without even a signal (okay, they signal with their middle finger). They run to get ahead of me in line at the grocery even though I only have one item. And, they are no better in a professional environment, either. That's going to cost them in repeat business.

I ask, "Has our technology-driven world caused us to forget being courteous and respectful?" I honestly believe that what we have gained in saving time and money has caused us to lose human connections.

Please and Thank You

I just got off the phone with a sales person. I listened to his pitch. Asked questions. And basically gave him (what I consider) my valuable time. When the conversation ended, I asked him to send me more information. He said, "Yeah, sure." Then, dead silence and he hung up...never saying thank you. Huh?

I placed an online order from a smaller company that sent me a thank you email with a special appreciation offer, which was nice. Plus, they also mailed a personal, handwritten note (GASP!) which I got a few days later.

Which encounter will I remember? The one with the straightforward, person-to-person connections and the not-so-common courtesy will keep me loyal to their products.

I Am Really Sorry

I miss when someone apologizes for their company's error. All they have to do is to admit the mistake and say that they are sorry for the screw up. Saying that they sincerely care is easier said than done.

Instead of apologies, I constantly hear people make excuses, in an effort to cover their own butt. They're all spinning their mistakes and making non-apology apologies.

Just once, I would like to hear a heartfelt apology that's sincere, fast, clear, and unequivocal. We have to realize that apologizing is NOT a sign of weakness, but one of character strength.

Patience Is a Virtue

So many companies rush you off the phone when you call for assistance. They do not try to help, let alone believe that "the customer is always right," like the scions of retailing did in the early twentieth century.

One of the people I work with told me the uncommon story of a company that went out of their way to help. Her husband bought a weather-proof case for his new iPhone and had trouble getting it on the phone. So, he called the company. The rep took him through the steps of getting the case to work...and would not hang up for nearly a half-hour, until she was sure that the case was on the phone correctly and that the customer was happy. Wow...impressive!

Just A Little RESPECT

I firmly believe in the Golden Rule.

Being respectful shouldn't be all that hard. All it involves is to:

• Promptly respond (within 24 hours) to legitimate professional communication, including emails, voice messages, social messaging comments, and the like
• Be open and honest with customers
• Maintain solid, professional relationships
• Be on time for meetings, whether they are in person, on the phone, or on the computer
• Set up out-of-office for emails and voice messages
• Not use "I was busy" as an excuse (everyone is busy!)

Being Polite Is a Serious Responsibility

I sure hope that people return to common courtesy. Surely, it will positively impact business...and that we will all be a whole lot better and more connected.