This month we’re looking at ways we can be world class business leaders. Today we’re talking about one of the most prevalent and most challenging: rudeness! Somehow people have become more and more rude over time, less inclined to follow even basic societal niceties. Maybe the exact rules of etiquette have changed some over the past few decades with the changes of technology and working with all cultures around the world and not being able to adopt all customs at all times. However, those who are rude, and know it, are asking for trouble when trying to do business.
I love being able to check my email or be available for my partner when something comes up. However, it’s rude to randomly check your messages or answer your phone while in a business meeting or while working with customers. If you’re a front-line worker and expected to work with people as well as answer the phone, do your best to let other workers answer the phone while you’re with a customer, but if that’s not possible, make sure to politely excuse yourself and ask how you can help the person on the phone, and take a message if it’s evident it’s more than a “what are your hours” type question.
Manners make you stand out:
In this world where manners and etiquette have fallen by the wayside, those who display manners stand out. Even just saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can make people sit up and take notice. You don’t have to go out of your way to display good manners, but showing some basic common courtesies like holding the door open for someone, cleaning up the area around you, cheerfully greeting guests, and being polite and kind even if you’re not thrilled with the person you’re talking with or job you’re doing, can make a big impact on a first time (or long time) guest.
I have to admit that I think there are tons of people who have gotten so used to not using manners, that they just don’t realize they’re being rude. If you have employees like this, it’s important to do an education class and just remind everyone what you, as the business owner, expect when they’re interacting with customers. You’ll set the stage for discussion around what it means to represent your brand and why you want them to act a certain way. It’s not about controlling people or telling them they’re wrong, it’s about everyone improving to be better people, and ultimately have happier customers. But, once you’ve had this class and discussion, you’ll have to lead by example and show your people how you want them to interact with your customers.
This week I encourage you to check your rudeness at the door. Don’t let your bad habits hurt your business any more. If you don’t think you’ve got bad habits, ask an employee or friend you trust to reveal them to you.