Letitia Baldridge, etiquette expert and former White House Social Secretary, nailed it: “Good manners are cost effective. They not only increase the quality of life in the workplace, they contribute to employee morale, embellish the company image, and play a major role in generating profit.”
I was in a public space a few days ago and overheard a person on his phone say loudly in frustration, “I don’t have the time to be polite. Let me just cut to the chase! I’m being taken advantage of and you know it! When I get into the office….”
No doubt this person felt his work efforts hadn’t been appreciated and that he was bearing costs or making sacrifices that were unfair or unequitable. A person or situation was costing him something and that cost was higher than the cost of him approaching the situation with decorum.
I would wager that if by the time he got to the office and cooled down by deep breathing and employing his good manners in the process, it would lend to a cost-effective way of solving his problem.
It may have cost him giving up what he believed to be justifiable anger, but he would have gained his own sense of self-control and demonstrated self-composure. His actions would have provided balance and benefit in relation to perhaps sacrificing a bit of his sense of ego in those moments. And perhaps this is just hopeful thinking.
Though some people tend to dismiss the importance of manners and etiquette as mere social convention and not truly important, choosing to behave etiquette-fully shows respect for others and for their feelings, even as their feelings are in transition.
When persons can overcome moments of emotion, it affirms their desire for positive relationships, even when open communication and the need to cooperate might not seem to solve immediate problems.
It’s thinking about the long run that reflects personal character and integrity. Aiming to be kind, empathetic, and humble in the short run helps a person remember that practicing good manners is necessary to maintain positive relationships with clients, colleagues, and corporate leadership—in the longer run.
Working toward harmony and cohesion at work may, at times, mean giving in or sacrificing your pride momentarily, holding your tongue and hearing someone out fully. But these moments are moments of quiet personal triumph. While they may feel costly at the time, the return on investment in the form of earned respect, good relationships, and reciprocated courtesy, makes your good manners cost effective.