Manners Always Matter

Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization. It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction. This is as true for human beings as it is for inanimate objects. Manners—simple things like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and knowing a person’s name or asking after her family—enable two people to work together whether they like each other or not.

Warm feelings and pleasant words are meaningless, are indeed a false front for wretched attitudes, if there is no achievement in what is, after all, a work-focused and task-focused relationship. On the other hand, an occasional rough word will not disturb a relationship that produces results and accomplishments for all concerned.

Day in and day out, maintaining a sense of decorum is an important ingredient in any well-managed enterprise. Bad manners rub people raw; they do leave permanent scars.

As commonsensical as this may seem, many managers fail to grasp just how crucial civility is. Bright people, especially young bright people, often do not understand this. If analysis shows that someone’s brilliant work fails again and again as soon as cooperation from others is required, it probably indicates a lack of courtesy—that is, a lack of manners.

This, of course, undermines not only the organization but the individual. People skills, more than smarts or technical talents, frequently make the difference in how high you go in your career.

Among the challenges in interpersonal behavior, many of us must strive to overcome: speaking when angry, being overly negative, making excuses, claiming undeserved credit, not listening well, and failing to express gratitude—the most basic form of bad manners.

Summing-up: Manners always matter. What people want most from their leaders is respect. They want this more than even the often-cited recognition and appreciation. And with that, there is but one thing left to say: Thank you for reading.

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