Friday, 15 August 2008

Good manners cost nothing

I don’t know about you, but that saying was drummed into me from a very early age. As a result, I’ve always tried to treat people courteously, and remembered to say please and thank you, in all forms of communication. I don’t see why an email, phone call, or even a text message should be any different.

This week I’ve experienced two occasions when manners were missing or ignored. The first time was an email from an organisation for whom I’m giving a talk in October. The message read:

“Louise, Can you distribute the flyer to your own networks?”

That was all. No please, no thank you, just the words above. The message wasn’t even signed! Bearing in mind that I’m not being paid for speaking, I’m afraid the wording of this email has left me feeling disinclined to help out with marketing.

The second experience was a phone call that started OK and went downhill fast. The caller was someone I’d met over a year ago at a networking event. I keep in touch with him through my Ezine but he hasn’t contacted me since that first meeting.

The conversation started with him reminding me about his commercial finance business. He went on to give an example of someone he had recently helped and then offered me a percentage for introducing any of my contacts who resulted in business for him.

At that point, he apologised and said he had to take another call. After a few minutes he came back on the line, apologised again and we continued our conversation. Almost straight away, he took another call and left me holding on again. When he returned, I commented that he sounded busy. His reply that ‘if only they were business calls’ surprised me and I’m afraid any inclination to help out a fellow networker completely faded away when he took the third call – and left me holding, yet again. Our conversation finished soon after that.

Even though the interruptions were quite short, I feel quite strongly that they shouldn’t have happened at all. I don’t use the ‘Call Waiting’ service. When I’m speaking with someone, I honour their time by giving them my uninterrupted attention for the duration of the conversation. I suppose it depends what impression you want to give!

Am I being old-fashioned and over-sensitive? I don’t know. But I do know that good manners buy quite a lot of goodwill and they still cost nothing!


Anonymous said...

Not old-fashioned and not over-sensitive. I would have thought exactly the same thing. Am surprised you managed to have the patience to wait 3 times :o)

And thanks for the birthday wishes on fb, btw.


Louise Barnes-Johnston said...

Thanks Karen, glad it's not only me! I wasn't really being patient - just stunned!

Anonymous said...

Hi Louise,

You're neither old-fashioned nor over-sensitive.

Not only did this man display poor manners, in doing so he counteracted his very purpose in calling you by demonstrating precisely why it might be wise NOT to refer your contacts to him.

Unfortunately, chances are, he'll never realize what he's done.

I can just picture you sitting there on hold for the third time with a stunned expression on your face, thinking, "You have got to be kidding!"

Great blog post, and reminder, of what an impact something as simple as good manners, or a lack thereof, can have.


Louise Barnes-Johnston said...

You know Lisa, I think you're right. The man probably doesn't realise the longer term effect of his actions! It will be interesting to see if I hear from him again!!

Thanks for your perceptive comment.