Are Good Manners Necessary for Today?
“Manners, ain’t nothing wrong with having manners, Show respect and some courtesy, You gotta give, you gotta give to receive” ~ Third World’s “Manners”
Would you like to work for a place that champions respect for everyone? That respect would include an everyday practice of good manners. Good manners? You may be asking who has time for etiquette when everything is moving so fast and you need to get things done? Or, perhaps you’ve read “manners are dead.” Or “No parent or school system teaches manners anymore.” You may also see so much bullying and negative comments on social media that you may think, “Are good manners relevant or even possible anymore?” Yes, they are!
Manners and Respect
It’s easy to confuse the term manners and respect. Therefore, it’s useful to clarify the difference between the two. Manners are the actions, doing, writing, saying, being patient, listening – the behaviors that are the actions that demonstrate respect. When practicing good manners, you are showing others that you see them as a unique human being, treating them as you would like to be treated and using consideration. Without good manners, people can get hurt and upset. Communication breaks down or communication gaps create rifts. Also, manners create expectations of how people will act in a relationship. While good manners don’t require authenticity, when they are given genuinely, the experience feels better to everyone!
Unlike manners which are specific actions, respect is an all-encompassing esteem. Depending on how you view it – it could be earned or a given. In other words, it’s a deference you show toward a person because of what they’ve done or accomplished, done for you/others, or because you believe everyone deserves respect.
Examples for 2021
So, what are some examples of good manners in 2021 in the workplace? Good manners can be starting an email or LinkedIn message with a greeting or expression of interest rather than “hey, I want something from you”. Manners in a conversation can be as simple as waiting your turn to speak rather than talking over another person. Other examples that make a difference are acknowledging someone you work with as you go past them with a greeting, praising someone in public for their great work, and speaking to a team member in private when they exhibit unprofessional conduct. (A note: manners differ from culture to culture, region to region and globally. We’ll speak about that in more detail in a later blog. This one is to bring awareness to manners and respect.)
Why They Matter
Why do these small actions matter? All these things matter in creating positive relationships in your organization and within your team. While personally you may not recognize the value of good manners, unless you work alone, you are surrounded by other people: working with them, leading them, wanting things from them. If you are not practicing good respectful manners, you may be unintentionally creating communication gaps. You may be the last to realize this until you’ve had truthful 360 analyses, been spoken to by your boss, or see a train of people leave your department or team.
How much more devoted to their work, job, organization, you, these people would be if the communication gaps were being bridged? Think of the untapped potential!
Specific manners differ from culture to culture, region to region and globally. I will talk about that in later blog. Tying respect with good manners
I used to be the co-head of a committee of a trade association of recruiters and HR professionals who specialized in talent. Many of the committee heads would send emails after not talking to someone for months without any kind of greeting or lead in – simply making a demand. It was easy to see how people would get offended by the emails. What the committee heads failed to see was their own lack of awareness about who they were trying to communicate with and how communication might be received. What’s ironic is that these were people who specialized in people.
In receiving one of these emails, how could you respond with good manners? Proactively modeling and understanding that it wasn’t someone intentionally being rude. I replied as I would like to hear from them. For example: “Hi, Penelope Pitstop, how are things going at the Pitstop? Have you put in any new features in your car?” Then you could reply with, “I’m happy to hear from you and so glad you asked that question.” Invite respect and personal acknowledgement into the relationship. Set the tone for a culture of respect.
How You Can Create a Culture for Optimal Success
Getting back to those rumors or media clips of good manners nay-sayers, while you may hear that good manners are a thing of the 1900’s, you are smart enough to know good manners of the 1900’s is not the same as good manners of today. Manners like technology and norms have evolved and will continually evolve. And while you may not be aware of the official guidebook of good manners for 2021 (not sure there is one), you feel in your gut when they are not in play, because it can feel like the sting of disrespect. As more inclusive workplaces develop, people are finding their voices. Try to welcome a correction someone tells you or shows you how you could be more aware or thoughtful when it comes to a relationship with them.
A culture of respect at your organization depends on learning, awareness and reinforcing good manners – the actions that underpin respect. Your relationships depend on the same thing. You have to give to get.
As a leader, how are you showing up? Have you been the role model for your team – communicating with respect and good manners so that they can learn to build strong positive relationships with you, their colleagues and senior level management or are there communication gaps? While the organization may dictate an overall sense of culture, the culture within your team is set by you.
My work as a leadership and communication expert has me go into organizations, as an outside unbiased view to look at the communication gaps. I identify what an organization is missing that’s holding it back from thriving and continuing to stay relevant. Think you can use an outside perspective because practices may have become entrenched or no longer fit your plans for today’s workplace and goals? Contact me: Susan@SusanGoldbergLeadership.com Let’s talk.