Say What? (The Importance of Manners) by Dwayne Castle

Photo by Wonderlane

Say What? (The Importance of Manners) by Dwayne Castle

Does anybody else remember that phrase: "mind your p's and q's?" Basically, it's an admonition to remember your manners. Hello. Please. Thank you. Simple one and two syllable words that can make a huge difference in determining attitudes and outcomes during encounters with other human beings.

Manners aren't necessarily the primary thing that separates us from the animals, but it is certainly in my top five. It's what stops us from pushing others out of our way when we are trying to get through. It's what prompts us to open a door for the person with their arms full or to offer assistance to the elderly person having difficulty in rising from a seated position.

Given the choice between spending time with a person who is both socially unaware and self-centered or a person who is cognizant of and polite to those around him, most of us would choose polite every time. This is so much more true when it comes to where we choose to do business. 

As I was grocery shopping this weekend, the young man working the cash register was able to scan my goods, bag them, and take my money using a total of three words: "that'll be $35.87". No "hello!" No "thank you for shopping." And absolutely ZERO eye contact. How does this happen?

Ironically, I believe it's because in this so called social media era we have become anything but social. We speak to one another in acronyms and emojis. We "talk" to one another through devices and not face to face. Have you ever seen someone text the person that they are seated next to? I have and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  

Most people want to do a good job of working with customers but so many just don't know how to communicate properly. Here is a list of some basics that we should all practice both at work and after hours. Let's see if together we can make this world a bit more cordial.

1) Smile! Yes, It's again on my list of things to do to improve our interactions with one another, personally and professionally.  A smile does much in tearing down defensive walls. It is a simple but huge step in helping to build and even repair relationships.

If this isn't on the top of your most-used tools list, make a change. Today. Practice in the mirror. Practice with your friends. If you are going to take a selfie, at least be practical about it and avoid the duck lips. Just practice a natural smile. For more on this topic, check out my article on "putting your best face forward, here."

2) Say hello. When you are the representative of your place of employment (or even if you are simply walking down the sidewalk) a solid greeting is the commonly accepted way to acknowledge that someone is in your presence and have caught your attention. If done right, that person will know you are happy to see them.

Shake it up by using different words - hi, hello, howdy, welcome, greetings. There are so many words you could use that are so much better than silence and the variety helps to make it sound fresh and sincere.  (Comment below if you would like to add some other greetings to the list.)

3) Avoid the monotone greeting. Often times when you repeat a phrase over and over, it can become robotic and mechanical. And if you are bored at the very onset of a conversation, I doubt that the other party will be too excited to continue. 

However, if you practice changing the tone and inflection as you speak, it can sound both genuine and energetic as if you are happy to be engaged with the person in front of you. Take a half a moment before each interaction and recognize that while this may be the 20th customer you've encountered in the last hour, the person in front of you is not number 20. The person you are engaging with at that moment, whether a customer or a spouse, is hoping to be treated as the individual they are, as if they are the person that matters right now.  

4) Eye contact. You can smile and give me the most awesome sounding greeting, but if you aren't looking at me while you do so, it doesn't count.  I avoid the self checkout because I don't communicate well with scanners. They don't say hello, they don't smile at me and they don't make eye contact.

Eye contact is what brings you and me into the moment together. When you look at me, you have a better chance of seeing me as a person. You even have a better opportunity to engage me as both a person and as a customer.

It works both ways, too. When you look me in the eye, I can better see you as a person as well and I like to do business with people much better than with mechanical devices.

5) Use words of appreciation. A hearty "thank you for coming in" if delivered right makes an impact. If you can make me believe that you really care that I entered your sphere of influence today, I'll probably come back another day.

If I come in again or even regularly, how about an "it was good seeing you again" or "thank you for coming back" or "I appreciate that you continue to shop (or dine or visit) with us". What are some other words of appreciation you have heard or used? Comment below. 

I want small-businesses to succeed. In order for that to happen, they need to be able to compete with the major chains, big box stores, and online retailers. It won't happen if customers don't feel good about being there.

The odds of people feeling inclined to do business with you increases as the consideration for them is expressed through the use of manners. Put simply, if you want to profit in your professional and your personal life, mind your p's and q's.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please share them with me and with others. By the way, speaking of manners, I'm still getting the hang of some of this blogging stuff. I am aware that I've failed to respond to some of the comments on my posts and I apologize. Your time and input is extremely important to me and I will improve. It's my hope that you won't give up on me. Thank you for being here at the beginning of this journey. Dwayne.