Voltaire, a French writer, once said, “Common sense is not so common.” It is amazing to know he was born nearly 325 years ago in 1694 because it seems his statement is still true today.
I suggest we could say the same about common courtesy. It is not so common. This is especially true today when you consider the state of civility in the workplace and in social media. According to an annual study conducted by Weber Shandwick for the past 9 years, a significant majority of Americans (69%) believe the lack of civility is a major problem (Weber Shandwick, 2019). Clearly common courtesy is not so common.
The word courtesy has its roots in the word “court” referring to the home of royalty. Court refers to the how to behave when around the King and Queen. Being chivalrous, elegant, and respectful was essential if you wanted to keep your head when interacting with royalty. There are plenty of reasons to be courteous today even though we don’t need to worry about Kings’ and Queens’ reactions.
Courtesy is a basic principle in life for achieving success. I personally find it challenging to feel love for some who are behaving poorly (disrespectfully) toward me, yet I can always express courtesy if I am disciplined.
Making Courtesy Common is Important for You
Expressing courtesy is a foundation for your personal success. And being courteous is a foundational activity for building relationships. When one is consistently courteous, s/he demonstrates emotional intelligence, cooperation, and respect. People want to work with those workers who are emotionally intelligent and respectful.
When you make deposits into your bank account it is easier to make withdrawals. I do not recommend you attempt to make a withdrawal without any deposits. That is what John Dillinger attempted to do.
The same is true for relationships. If you use courtesy frequently, you make “trust” deposits. The trust deposits increase the speed and frequency of communication. You then become a person known for getting results. It boosts your brand image and makes you more likely to be considered for new projects and promotional opportunities. Courtesy is a helpful part of a strategy for getting promoted.
Frequent courtesy can boost your reputation and make you more popular. Your brand image is enhanced. Being courteous is not the same thing as being nice. Is it possible to be courteous and disagree? Of course, it is! Being courteous during a disagreement or a conflict provides greater opportunities for resolution or compromise.
Being courteous give you more opportunities to be assertive with minimal over reaction by others. Using courtesy frequently can better enable you to stand up for yourself, reduce the probability of others taking advantage of you, and at the same time maintaining working relationships.
Two Steps to Make Courtesy Common
The very successful basketball coach, John Wooden, often explained to his players, “Champions are brilliant at the basics.” This is true for basketball, or any sport, and is also true for expressing courtesy.
The basics of courtesy are uncomplicated. Start using “please” and “thank you” more frequently.
Whenever you speak with (or write to) someone and ask for something, use “please.” When you receive something from someone, use “thank you.” It’s that simple. And, it provides plenty of opportunity to make courtesy common.
If you want to be uncommon, start being uncommon by making courtesy common practice.
Our flagship product, the MAGIC of Customer Relations, incorporates this into our program as a way to act professionally and build confidence. Contact us if you’d like more information.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results