Manners are a funny thing. Often times, we have better manners when we’re out in the public eye than we have at home, even though we love our families more than perfect strangers. We know what good manners are and how people should act, but we don’t get upset at ourselves when we don’t demonstrate those values. They’re important in all aspects of your life – work, home, family, sports, leisure, etc. I see the most important piece as a simple formula of the golden rule – treat others as you’d want to be treated.
In our business, you are able to interact with just about everyone – from the regular Joe to any number of Business Leaders. We see all types of personalities and how people treat one another. Good manners aren’t confined to a role; they’re instilled in an individual value system. We try to treat all of the people we interact with on the same level of respect and dignity that we’d expect ourselves. Does everyone act in kind? Unfortunately not. That would be a nice world where we could count on everyone playing nice in the sandbox. What I’ve learned over the years of managing, interacting, and training people, discussing bad apples, unhappy people, is that negativity breeds negativity. Each person has a choice to make about whether they let that negativity affect their day in a positive or negative light. It’s not to say that being yelled at, or being on the receiving end of unpleasant comments doesn’t affect your mood, or leave you feeling frustrated or offended. It does leave you the opportunity though to realize how good you might have it with your pleasant nature, patience and good will. Perhaps the other person was having a bad day or week or they aren’t as fortunate as you are. Maybe they are just a miserable person who can’t get out of their own way. Either way, it’s like I tell my kids, you control you, you don’t control them. Each person has the choice to act above what they see.
The advice portion:
1. Don’t get into arguments at work. Raising your voice, getting defensive or acting out will only net bad results for you. It could be anything from tarnishing your reputation to getting you fired depending on how severe you may react. Keep your cool, act professionally, and take criticism constructively.
2. Take time to let the feedback or discussion to set in. A person’s initial instinct is to react immediately – this is largely based on emotion. Don’t bite. Some people can take a few minutes to compose their thoughts; others need a day or more to collect their thoughts.
3. Come back with a plan. You’ll earn mounds of respect for moving forward with your effective action plan on resolving any issue that comes up. What you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and by when. Of course, presented in a professional, well mannered way.
4. Agree to Disagree. If you cannot come to a consensus, or just can’t seem to see it their way, that’s ok. There’s no sense being a jerk about it though. Politely agree to disagree, but affirm that you have the company’s best interest at heart and you’ll contribute in a fitting manner without being a sour grape. There are plenty of times where you won’t agree with how something should be done. It doesn’t make you right or wrong, but you’re not always in a decision making role and you have to learn to live with that.
Manners are not just about saying “please” and “thank you.” They have a lot to do with acting professionally in the work place. That includes working in an office setting as well as a manufacturing or industrial setting. Just because you don’t dress in a suit and tie doesn’t mean you can’t act professionally. A wise manager once told me, “you never know who you’re going to work for in the future,” so don’t burn a bridge by using poor manners. Establish yourself as the professional, well mannered individual, and right or wrong, you’ll sleep better at night and create better opportunities for yourself in the long run.