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Manners Maketh Man

From an early age, I was encouraged to believe in good manners, regardless of the environment one finds oneself in. You say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ and you remember that being polite costs nothing.

Today that makes me a dinosaur and in this fast-food, Internet society of ours, simple courtesy no longer has a place in on-line business or doesn’t seem to.

I send an email to someone I know and get no reply. I might attend a meeting or an interview and I thank the people involved for their time or enquire about the next step on our relationship. Nothing comes back, just a deafening silence which tells me: “I’m too busy and I’m too important to bother myself with you, go away”.

You see, if you write to me, as people often do, I’ll make every effort to acknowledge your interest, even if it’s only a one-liner, saying ‘Thank you’. Ignoring another person is, in my mind both insulting and arrogant and in the corridors I walk in, people conceal the evidence of inefficiency or incompetence or both, behind a convenient wall of email or voicemail.

If I listed the characters who have displayed bad manners in the last six months, you’d be surprised; as I’m sure the companies involved would be very familiar. Normally, I deal at VP or MD level and because of what I do and who I am; you might expect the simple courtesies. I remember, a couple of years ago, being asked by “the Boss”, if I could invite a select group of IT industry MDs to a meeting at the Cabinet Office. I was amazed at how many couldn’t be bothered to respond to the invitation.

Are good manners dead then or have we simply become a nation or timid procrastinators, hiding behind a technology that relieves us of making decisions, of saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or even ‘Thank you’ unless there’s something in it for us.

Like elephants though, people never forget a good turn or a bad one and as the IT industry continues its spiralling decline, those little acts of common courtesy might one day be the difference between this job and the next.


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