Posted on May 21st, 2006

It dawned on me the other day that some of our stress may be as a result of other people’s bad manners. I keep hearing that as a society we have become less polite and that good manners are a thing of the past. I’d hate to think that has really happened but perhaps the hurry up of our lives has increased and maybe courtesy is falling by the wayside.

I was raised by an Irish Mother and an English Father. Good manners and being polite to others was high on the list of things to be learned and practiced in my home. Good manners indicated a thoughtfulness of others and the message was that if everyone behaved in this manner, the world would be a more civilized place overall. Kindness and consideration of others would abound and being amongst one another would be a pleasant experience. Not a bad theory if practiced by all.

Email is the one area, for those of us who indulge in this technology, where good manners can be scarce. As a businesswoman, I send and receive hundreds of emails over the course of a week. I am in love with the written word, so you can imagine my glee when email came along. “Now there will no excuse for people to not respond”, I foolishly thought to myself. "All they have to do is hit “reply” type a few words and then hit “send”. Well, it seems the same people who were loathe to put pen to paper, are equally as loathe to hit “reply” and “send”. I am not speaking of the joke senders and receivers, although it’s nice to let someone know you are receiving and sharing in their on line giggles. I’m primarily speaking of business related emails.

What happens with me is I will get an email from the corporate world asking if I would be available for a particular date for either a keynote address, a workshop or a laughter session. I reply asap, thanking them for their interest and suggest we talk on the phone. I give them phone numbers, times I’ll be available and hit “send”. It will sometimes take them 3 weeks to respond. The courteous thing to do of course, would be to reply immediately indicating a more detailed response could be expected later, should they not have the time to deal with it immediately.

After I’ve done a presentation, I send an email to the organizer, thanking them for hiring me, and then asking for feedback from either themselves or their participants. A quick acknowledgement of my request would be the polite thing to do. Those who know and value the importance of professional business etiquette respond quickly. But it doesn’t always happen. I have spoken with other business people who are experiencing the same no-response phenomenon. The absolute beauty of email is that you can be as concise as you wish as it takes mere seconds to respond.

Granted, this is when email is up and running smoothly. Recently my email server was out of commission for 5 – 7 days, so I had to resort to the old fashioned method of communicating by telephone. Now there’s another topic, voicemail and the stress it can cause.

Acknowledgement of others in a timely fashion is not only polite, but it really does help to diminish the stress in their day. Oh, thanks for your time!

Carole Fawcett is a Stress Management Consultant, having worked as a Crisis Intervention Counsellor for over 25 years, plus she is a Laughter Therapist and Freelance Writer. She lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. Her web pages are: http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

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