As it appeared in the Daily Nation on February 12th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
Businesses are about people more than they are about products and services. Businesses are about building strong long-lasting relationships with customers, partners, suppliers and everyone else involved. These relationships are built during the interactions that happen every day. These interactions either make or break the relationships that we have with businesses and with specific individuals. During the interactions with each other, there are a series of actions and / or inactions. The actions display a level of courtesy and friendliness that is either acceptable or unacceptable. Most inactions exhibit a lack of basic courtesy. At the core of all great human interactions is some basic courtesy and friendliness.
Here are simple examples. You walk into one of the shops at the mall. The staff is very busy scrolling down their phone that he can barely hear your footsteps. As you get closer, the staff does not acknowledge your presence. They fail to act. They expect you to state your case and possibly, they will send you away. They want to continue with their WhatsApp conversation. Such a staff lacks basic courtesy and is unfriendly. At the corner of the mall, there is a restaurant. You sit down and make your order. A few minutes later, the meal shows up. One of the items you requested for is out of stock. The staff apologizes in a sincere manner and gives you options showing basic courtesy. Unfortunately, courtesy is not always that common. Lack of basic courtesy and unfriendliness is seen in emails, calls, and messages not responded to. Often at the workplace, we witness aloofness, a negative attitude, rude responses, others not giving way, aggression, etc. These are all signs that lack of basic courtesy and unfriendliness is commonplace in businesses.
In a business set-up, our conclusion on whether an interaction was amiable or cold is often based on how the staff made us feel. Use of courteous words such as please and a general display of friendliness often makes customers, suppliers, partners feel welcome, wanted and appreciated. These behavioural aspects make our businesses more approachable. Courtesy and friendliness can almost be used interchangeably to demonstrate good mannerism. To be considered reliable we must consistently display an acceptable level of good mannerism. Lack of basic courtesy and an unfriendly approach to business injures trust. Once business relationships are broken because of lack of courtesy, they become difficult to mend.
There is no doubt that the level of courtesy and friendliness during our interactions with others plays a significant role in our businesses’ success. Unfortunately, actions on how to improve the level of courtesy and friendliness do not always feature in our daily and annual plans. To stay ahead, we need to reflect on our level of courtesy and friendliness both internally and externally. How courteous are we? How friendly are our teams? Are we connecting with others? I believe there is always an opportunity for each one of us to be a little more courteous and to boost our level of friendliness. Let us try it out this week; be intentional about spreading some love, be courteous, be friendlier, be kind, be polite, be good mannered, be more gracious and observe how this will influence our interactions.
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy