By Bob Williams
"You mannerless slug!"
"Do you seriously NOT know any better than that?"
*Some of the nicer things you may have yearned to say at times?
My socially adept wife went to a casual gathering at a family pool recently. An affable, no Oedipus raging, all relative, light hearted venture. A young nephew and wife arrive. The wife, in a totally walking dead sort of way, completely ignores my little bride. Never speaks or says hello. There were only 3 people there before the couple arrived! The tell tale glances exchanged indicated that the behavior was as peculiar as she thought. Unfortunately, it is not unusual today.
Respect, congeniality, common courtesy and the things that used to define the archaic terms called manners and professionalism are vanishing from our landscape. It's as if we have watched as the fog of contempt for social common sense creeps in on little cat feet. The shortage of professional behavior is even seeping into treatment of customers. Not good...
"Who cares?", you may say if these ideas seem alien... Well, it IS relative isn't it!?! Without a book about first impressions, bungled negotiations and the endless issues resulting from inter cultural ignorance or just two second attention spans, let's just say that you know why it's important as soon as YOU are the one shorted, affronted or insulted...
Intra-professional communications appear to be walking dead caliber as well. In the age of raging "social" networking, the irony of disintegrating values in professionalism is pervasive. Not going for Mr. Manners or anything, but it's amazing how many business communications get ignored, regardless of relevancy.
Too many times, have heard or experienced interviews with high visibility, global companies who once took pride in their integrity and professionalism,and now have lapsed into what might be referred to as the Etiquette Fog Syndrome (EFS)!
As EFS takes hold, you will not hear from the companies you just spent your time and efforts to meet. You may not even get a form letter, or maybe you get it months later.
You may find yourself in situations within and organization that requires you to lie or ignore the facts because of nepotism, egocentric and incompetent corporate decorations behaving like dogs or appointed "managers" obviously untrained in listening skills, much less the ability to deal effectively with anything beyond a Pavlovian response...
You may be confronted with goals and expectations that indicate how clearly management is unaware of what business they are in, and how one way courtesy reduces any chance of professionalism. Respect, mutual courtesy and acting like you know how professionals behave are all disappearing as we tweet our way to non-communication and ineffective practices.
With a nod to the fact that socially accepted behaviors evolve and change, many hope the changes might be for the better. If you find yourself at the mercy of colleagues who don't respond to inquiries within a reasonable time (24 hrs?), with no indication ("reverting") that your inquiry merits any importance; if you work with managers who don't know when to speak with you behind closed doors; if you work with people who lips never close and ears never open; if you have ever seen emails to customers that make you cringe; if you have been stunned with disbelief by the increasing customer NO-service; if you've found yourself the victim when caught off guard by certain cultural ettiquette that you missed, try to help when and where you can.
Seldom are there valid strategies that give credit for confronting rudeness with rudeness. Recognizing the dilapidated state of business etiquette today, it seems the best approach remains a combination of forgiveness and timely education. These tools and the comfort of an old business paraphrase of karma - "what goes around, comes around"!