I think it was my dear, old Gran that first imparted that pearl of wisdom – presumably in response to my child-self’s failure to deliver an unprompted ‘Thank You’.
It is true. Manners do cost nothing and yet they are so important. Now, I’m not talking about inherited rules like not putting your elbows on the table when eating, or doffing your cap to a person of importance. The contrived etiquette of Victorian times is no indicator of a well-mannered modern person. No, what I’m talking about is common courtesy.
You’re probably wondering why I’m harping on about manners, in this company blog. Well, Rumblechatters, I’ll tell you why. Common courtesy is the cornerstone of professionalism in business. It’s as simple as that. Behaving in a professional manner whilst at work is akin to having good manners at home. Being considered a decent person depends on maintaining certain behavioural standards. So does running a professional business.
When you work for big corporations a defined level of professionalism is mandatory. You can’t get your foot in the door without it. There is very little room for bad manners in the world of the blue-chip. Why would there be? Successful corporations can choose from the cream of the crop. And the cream tend to be exceedingly well mannered.
It came as quite a shock to me that these rules don’t always extend to the world of SMEs. My role here at RumbleChat is to help food and lifestyle businesses with their marketing. The majority of these businesses tend to be small. The vast majority of small businesses I encounter operate in a lovely, friendly, considerate and professional manner – I cannot emphasise this enough. They are a joy to work with and making a positive difference to their businesses makes every working day worthwhile.
There are however, a small minority, who really let the side down. And it’s to this small, dysfunctional subset that I dedicate the following rant. You know who you are! And I’m here to tell you there is no need to behave badly in business. While you may like to think you’re a maverick entrepreneur, to the rest of the world you’re just plain rude. If you’re in any doubt as to which category you fit into, check out my list of popular offences:
- Failing to turn up to meetings…that you requested…without providing any forewarning or excuse…just literally not turning up. How hard is it to send a text or an email? Our digital age provides the perfect armoury for cowards – you don’t even have to have an actual conversation. Just whack out an electronic correspondence of some sort
- Sending emails or texts when only a conversation will do. Now I know it sounds like I’m contradicting my previous point but I’m not, really. There are still occasions when only an actual conversation, face-to-face or on the phone, will suffice – like making an employee redundant or terminating a contract. Running a business necessitates some tricky conversations. So man up and deal with it.
- Failing to pay for services. If you are receiving a service from another company, you need to pay for it. End of.
- Obtaining services under false pretences. By this I mean, courting agencies to pitch for a project that will never happen…just so that you can steal their ideas and use them yourself. Bad form.
- Disappearing off the face of the earth…in communication terms at least. So rude and unnecessary – refer to my first point
Now none of this is the rocket science of the manners world. It’s not hard to do. Anyone can behave in a decent, professional way if they choose to.
In the world of big business there is a warning adage about being careful who you upset on the way up….as they’ll undoubtedly be gunning for you, from their ivory tower, as you make your inevitable descent. This concept of commercial karma is equally relevant in SME-land. So for the vast majority of you who ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you’ as Matthew requested (7:12…impressed?), give yourself a pat on the back and know that commercial karma will be yours. For those of you who wheel, deal and steal – beware, and take heed of another of my Gran’s pearls: ‘What goes around, comes around’
So RumbleChatters, what’s your most unprofessional business experience? No names please, but give me those gripes!