Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Courtesy...

I've titled this post "A Courtesy" but what exactly does that mean? The concept can be subjective and open to anyone's interpretation. For the sake of this post I'm referring to courtesy is something that is offered to someone else. For example, if you know you're going to be late for a meeting do you call ahead to let them know you're running behind? Or if you are invited to a function do you reply quickly? You would be offering a courtesy to those people waiting for you at your meeting if you made that quick informative phone call, or if you let the host of the function know right away if you're planning to attend. These are simple acts of courtesy that I enjoy receiving.

What does courtesy look like to you? Is it a helpful person holding the door open, or a service agent on the phone politely helping you through your bank statement, or perhaps it's another driver in a car allowing you to scoot in front of them in a traffic jam. I love when someone holds the door for me or a polite service person works patiently with me. I also enjoy when I'm invited to participate in a function, perhaps to speak or facilitate and I'm given the appropriate information upfront so that I can prepare.

We all know what it's like to be on the receiving end of discourteous or even rude people. No one likes that. One time I was visiting the new Nordstroms here in San Antonio and was working with a salesperson who would receive commission for my purchases. When it came time to check out we walked to the counter and he began to process my bill. He politely chatted with me while adding up my bill until the phone rang.

Now, we have to stop here for just a second because this is an issue that goes way back to when I was a customer service person at Nordstrom. We were trained to never answer the phone if we were waiting on a customer. To be fair, I don't know if their policy has changed but in any case for me old habits die hard. My sales clerk stopped working on my order and while I'm standing right in front of him proceeded to answer the phone, take another person's order and actually left the counter while explaining to me that whoever it was on the phone had an urgent need and he would be right back.
I stood there sort of dumbfounded, stunned really and watched him walk away. Hmmm, that in my opinion is the perfect picture of someone being discourteous. He could have easily finished my order and sent me on my way, allowing himself the freedom to work on whatever urgent need the person on the phone call had.
More recently I was asked to speak at a function and I pressed the coordinator repeatedly for the date, time and details of what I was going to be speaking on. It took three emails, and three different people to finally be told the date of the event and wouldn't you know it, I had a previous engagement.

So, I share these little things about offering courtesy because it is just such an important thing. As I raise my children one of the tenents of my parenting is to speak with politeness and to treat each other with respect, offering courtesy whenever we have the chance. We all want to be treated fairly and with courtesy and so it's important to remember and maintain what courtesy looks like to us so that we in turn can offer it to others.

1 comment:

Diane Markins said...

Well, ya struck a cord in me with this one. One thing I find incredibly discourteous(but all too common) is when I'm out to lunch with a friend and they answer a call on their cell phone, then carry on a full conversation. Did someone die? Are you discussing your cancer treatment options? Are they leaving right away for a part of the world where phone access isn't available?
Please, I understand that sometimes we all need to excuse ourselves and take a quick call because of a need to exchange significant, timely information. That can be accomplished in under 90 seconds. After that, there is seldom an excuse good enough to justify this rude behavior. CALL THEM BACK WHEN LUNCH IS OVER TO DISCUSS AMERICAN IDOL!