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February 12, 2019

Let’s Bring Back Some Common Professional Courtesies and Manners


In business today, it's practically impossible for leaders to go a day without talking about topics such as managing costs, being even better, innovating, getting business done, getting to world class, etc. 

What doesn't seem to be as frequently discussed is how important relationships are to these and other critical business outcomes. How is it that in many cases common courtesies have become a lost art? What about the value of being kind and caring in the workplace? Which, by the way, isn’t at odds in any way with delivering results.

Ironically, many of these values and ways of being are what I’m trying to teach my young daughters (along with using their assertive voice and asking directly for what they want.) These approaches are most welcome and needed in the workplace today, too.

Connecting in the Day and Age of Technology

We live in a day and age when people get by with "like" buttons, texts, 240 character tweets, and two word email replies (if a reply at all!). We transact instead of connect too often.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of how technology can help us be more effective and efficient when transacting is needed, but it’s not a substitute for real contact, which builds strong relationships. Without real relationships, aided by technology when it’s appropriate (and not the other way around), it’s hard to get work done, and especially done through others.

No matter how pinched for time, how intense the business, the most effective leaders take time out of their busy day to nurture – and leverage – relationships.

To demonstrate to others that they care, here’s what savvy leaders do:

  • They pick up the phone (instead of email or IM) to reach out
  • They connect vs. transact
  • They return calls and acknowledge messages in a timely way
  • They know what’s going on in others’ lives
  • They give meaningful and caring feedback, in the context of their motivation and intent (to help the other person)
  • They are courteous and say “please” and “thank you”
  • They are kind, even when delivering tough news or difficult feedback
  • They send hand-written notes of gratitude
  • They don’t simply listen; they have the ability to empathize as well

In these and other ways, they let people know that they matter.

In what ways are you connecting with others, and what additional strategies might help you be even more effective?

—David Grossman

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