Having Top-Notch Manners Will Distinguish You

05/01/2012 05:17 pm ET | Updated Jul 01, 2012

A factor that distinguishes the doers from the non-doers is their level of etiquette. The way that a coaching client decides to conduct themselves, be that on a business or personal note, can determine the outcome of an assignment. This simple yet often neglected quality is the one thing that can convey our values and our ability to communicate effectively. With good manners, you can win people over and enhance relationships. Without them, there's a kind of emptiness left in the air. It's as if any real communication has evaporated.

To some, having good manners is akin to a "foreign language" in that they are not used to expressing gratitude, giving thanks and being polite. It's as if care and thoughtfulness toward others is not their norm. For some, it seems that time doesn't allow them to ensure their manners are where they need to be. And although I can understand this to a degree, I cannot condone it. With good manners, we are able to build better rapport and convey an important aspect of our personalities -- our personalities. In addition, we are able to shine brighter in the world.

One reason good manners are less prolific than they could be has to do with sacrifice. When we offer someone a seat on public transportation, we are making a sacrifice: We give up our right to be seated. When we open the door for a stranger, they get to go before us. When we return a phone call or an email in "good time," even when there's nothing in it for us, we sacrifice our time so that the other person will benefit. Often, it's as if these characteristics are no longer considered to be of any value.

In this "all about me" world each of us live in, I'm suggesting we endeavour using a different approach, perhaps we could consider something closer to "all about us." After all, in essence, we are all in this together. Aren't we? If we continue to live in a world that eschews etiquette and focuses on selfishness, bad manners and a lack of thought for others, future generations will consider "good manners" to be outmoded. I think you'll agree that this would be most unfortunate for us all.

While I was working with a media company, I was introduced to a young man who was their IT expert. I offered my hand and was met with a "What are you doing?" stare. I later found out that this young chap had no awareness that when meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to shake hands. I remember feeling mildly shocked. It also prompted me to think about what it said about society. I might add that this young man was perfectly amiable. However, he did himself and the business a disservice by not being aware of good old-fashioned etiquette.

So, I'd like to suggest we all pull together and make a big effort to convey good manners, even though at times they may seem to be less needed. The reason I say this is because good manners will always be in style; in fact, they are one of the cornerstones of any self-development. And by doing so, we show those who are less able to express good manners how to use them. It is they, as well as us, who will be the greatest beneficiaries.

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