According to a survey by FreshBooks, it seems that some businesses struggle with a politeness problem. FreshBooks, a small business accounting software company, analyzed the invoices of small businesses in each state for the words "please" and "thank you" to identify which states are most polite. Oklahoma came in first, with 49 percent of small businesses using the magic words on their invoices. In last place is Tennessee, with only 6 percent including such niceties on their invoices.
Why does using these three little words matter? It's been said that people may forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. In business, that's the difference between a customer choosing you or your competition.
If you think politeness doesn't matter anymore, consider this: if a cashier treats you kindly, smiles and asks how you are, you will leave the store with a positive feeling and are more likely to return. If your cashier doesn't make eye contact, greet you with a smile or say thank you at the end of the transaction, that store has missed an opportunity to forge a connection.
Simple manners guide people in interacting with each other, building solid relationships. In today's busy, chaotic, technology-driven world, interpersonal conduct is the path to personal connection and developing authentic connections. In today's current climate, treating each other well is more important than ever before.
An emphasis on politeness starts at the top. If you're a business owner, here are simple ways to make basic human kindness part of your company culture.
Set the Example
Consider how you would like employees to treat your customers. That is exactly how you should treat your employees. Treat the security guard with the same respect you would treat your biggest client.
Change Your Perception
Don't make the mistake of thinking you are too busy or important to make time for others, especially those you consider lower on the corporate ladder. Some people equate kindness with weakness. The opposite is true; being courteous doesn't weaken your position, it strengthens it. Being polite doesn't mean you are a pushover. It means you believe that other people are inherently worthy of respect, a message that you will definitely want your employees to embrace when they interact with your clients and each other.
Show a sincere interest in your employees. When you take the time to get to know a little bit about your staff, it creates an engagement that will help make them feel more connected to their job and their mission at your company.
Convey Nonverbal Respect
If you don't look up from your screen when an employee is talking with you, it doesn't matter what you say. You are clearly telling them you are not interested and you feel they are wasting your time. Be sure your stance, gestures, facial expressions and eyes are in alignment with your intention to treat others with respect. Prioritize the person in front of you over your cell phone.
Show Restraint in Disagreements
Demonstrating courtesy on the job doesn't mean you grin and go along with whatever anyone else says, even when you disagree. It means that you listen to others, then communicate your position with professionalism and respect. Emphasizing civility can help avoid infighting, encourage productive discussion and diffuse tension when discussing differing opinions. As a boss, being polite doesn't mean saying "That's great!" to sub-par work. Instead, it means treating the person who created it with respect as you guide them toward improvement.
When people know they will be treated respectfully, it empowers them to bring forward fresh new ideas and speak openly if there is a problem. By building a solid foundation of civility, you set a pattern that allows your team to operate at their highest level.