Good manners are among the most essential characteristics for a good public relations professional to possess. Good manners are the essence of diplomacy and without them many people won’t even consider what you know.
I’m constantly surprised how often I meet rude people in politics. Some assume politics is all about ideology, but most people won’t care about your ideology if you’re rude!
Next week, we celebrate National Etiquette Week. Sometimes people confuse etiquette and manners as synonyms. They are not. But understanding etiquette is a necessary component to the practice of good manners …
Judith Martin, known as “Miss Manners,” stated:
“I make a distinction between manners and etiquette – manners as the principles, which are eternal and universal, etiquette as the particular rules which are arbitrary and different in different times, different situations, different cultures.”
Etiquette encompasses local rituals and is variable depending on time and place. Etiquette is knowing which fork to use at dinner or knowing that wearing white in winter is considered inappropriate in certain parts of the country. Manners are more fundamental and ultimately more important. However, learning and practicing etiquette is one way of showing those around you respect because it shows that you made the effort to learn how they like to do things and are doing your part to keep things comfortable for everyone.
How often do you talk to a person who just wants to talk and doesn’t listen to anything you say except to think about what they’re going to say next? In the words of the great Jason Aldean’s Dirt Road Anthem, “I’m tired of talking man, y’all ain’t listening.” We all get tired of talking to someone who isn’t listening. Validate other people by listening more than you talk. Don’t interrupt and don’t look at your phone while they’re talking. Ask them questions. Listening is a way to show other people that you value them.
Never treat people like you’re better than them. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. If you treat me like you’re better than me, you just might inspire me to teach you a lesson you won’t like. In fact, arrogance is a main characteristic of tyrannical regimes that have been roundly rejected by the people they attempt to rule over. Why? Because people often have an understandably violent reaction when they are treated with contempt by their rulers.
Some people think they’ll get ahead by lying, trading in insincere compliments and false promises they never intend to keep, but trust is a valuable commodity. Often, liars are seen for what they are instantly because their non-verbal cues give them away. On other occasions, liars are found out later destroying any trust they built up and trading that trust for enmity.
Being respectful to everyone is easy and is smart as a practical matter. Don’t think you can be rude to a CEO’s administrative assistant and that your behavior won’t get back to the CEO. Some of my favorite stories are examples of people that were rude to somebody on their way to a job interview. When they get to that interview, it turns out the person they disrespected is on the other side of the desk. Treating everyone with respect is smart and it’s also just the right thing to do.
- Keeping your word
In a world where so few people keep their word, just showing people that they can count on you is a huge way to get ahead with basic manners. One of my favorite things I learned about God in church when I was younger is that God doesn’t change and always keeps His promises. While I may not be able to build you a rocket ship, honoring my word to others is one simple reason I’ve gotten ahead over the years.
Eric Eisenhammer is CEO of Dauntless Communications a political strategy and technology company based in the Western US.
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