Some time ago, I placed a large red bowl on the coffee table in my office. In it are thank-you cards and letters from readers and friends and new acquaintances I’ve met while doing my work.
I like holding on to the personal messages and having them displayed nearby. Seeing them often reminds me of the interactions with their authors and how much I appreciate them for re-connecting with me in such a nice and generous way. They remind me of a favorite quote, “Small courtesies sweeten life.” And, truly, they do.
Every time I pick up the day’s mail and find a hand-written note among the bills and press releases, it puts a smile on my face. I open its envelope first. I am eager, of course, to read words written exclusively for me! On a good day, they are the icing on the cake. On a bad one, they affirm the delicious flavors of friendship and lift my spirits.
Often, we hear, “common courtesy is dead.” Gracious correspondences provide evidence; the reports of its demise are premature.
Sadly, though, small courtesies have become less common, in fact, uncommon — especially in business. And, that’s really too bad. The absence of courtesy – treating others the way you would like to be treated — hurts relationships more than many know.
Admittedly, I favor those who show their respect and consideration for others – whether it be by act or expression. Likewise, I find it difficult to work with those who believe it is no longer important — and demonstrate this belief routinely. Sorry, I’m human!
Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with a lot of artists, writers, photographers and printers. I worked with many of them for years, others not so long. Alas, the presence or lack of common courtesy has been the determiner.
For example, I worked with a local printing company for a long time. The quality of the work was good, and the price was fair. All the while, other printing companies kept approaching me, wanting to print this magazine. But, out of loyalty, I kept turning them away, telling them I wasn’t looking to make a change. Finally, one day, I was asked, “Why are you so loyal to your printer?”
The inquiry forced me to stop and think. In fact, re-think that business relationship.
My printer (now my former printer) had never requested a meeting to discuss our printing and how we might be able to improve our product or reduce costs. That printer had never offered me a cup of coffee or a glass of water when I showed up for a press check. That printer had never really thanked me for doing business with him. In fact, that printer had never even sent me a holiday greeting or sympathy card when one should have been forthcoming! Common courtesies all!
Why hadn’t I picked up on all of this long before?
Well, I had, but I let it go. I had become accustomed to the lack of common courtesy in business. It was easier to do nothing, leave things well enough alone. Finally, I said, “No more!”
Re-thinking the status quo is a good thing. Most often, it brings a change for the better — in our relationships and in us!
Thursday, March 21 is National Common Courtesy Day. I do hope you will join me on this day and show your gratitude for all who do business with you. Call them and say “thanks” or send them a card. This uncommon courtesy will be highly appreciated and long remembered. No doubt about it!
Question and Answers
Orange and Pink
Pleasure of Your Company
Choices and Change
Do Overs and Second Chances
Taking a Sabbatical
Ghosts and Goblins
Dog Days of Summer
Bones of Success
The Power of Seven
Spirits of the Season
What can I do to help you?
Back to the Future
Women and Philanthropy
Tiny Little Efforts
Beyond the Passion
Election of 2008
Lessons from IKE
No time for fooling around
For love or money?
Don't worry; be happy
Work and Life
Red-hot and true-blue
Mothers and Manners
Passions of the Heart
Endings and Beginnings
Holding on to Summer
Giving thanks & paying it forward
Renewing Old Friendships
Summertime! And the livin' is easy?
A different kind of wonderful
Gratitude & Grace