Using Courtesy Words to Soften Your Approach
Posted by Anni M.
It’s easy to move through your day without expressing the appropriate amount of courtesy. Business environments are fast-paced. You may feel like you’re running at top-speed, trying to tackle each task as efficiently as possible. Saying “please,” or “thank you” may not seem to matter. They’re just filler words after all, designed to pad the truly critical information in a sentence. I think it’s our natural tendency to dispense with the formalities and niceties when we’re stressed. I do it all the time. But these words carry a lot of weight, more than we might realize. When you ask someone to do something without courtesy words, your request becomes an order. Psychology tells us, orders are far less likely to get results than courteous requests.
This just as true in your writing as it is in your speech. Today, a huge percentage of our business communications are conducted via email. Emails are even more notoriously curt and un-friendly than face-to-face conversation. We think of them as a utilitarian means to an end. We don’t worry about punctuation and grammar, we simply spew out the important details and hit “send.” I think this is a terrible mistake, and it’s so easily remedied. Courtesy words exist for a reason. They demonstrate kindness, understanding, empathy, and respect. When we say “please” we frame our request as a question—a proposition with an open door for refusal. When a co-worker is asked to do something nicely, she is much more likely to prioritize the project, and will have a much more favorable opinion of the person who asked her to do it.
It is never a good idea to sacrifice interpersonal relationship building, no matter how stressed or busy you are. Those relationships are bigger than any one project. The more likeable, trusted, and respected you are in the office, the better your prospects for success will be. When your boss considers who deserves a raise, it won’t be the person who got the most work done at the expense of the people around him. It will be the person who demonstrated his ability to collaborate with the team, who got work done while maintaining harmony in the office, and who has the respect of the people around him. Business success depends on balance. It’s about cultivating the renaissance man: the person who does it all with a smile on his face.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..