https://www.bonnielowkramen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/btua-book-cover-1.png 566 400 Bonnie Low-Kramen /wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bonnie-low-logo.png Bonnie Low-Kramen2020-11-09 10:17:442022-01-25 13:38:28Are We Zooming Through Good Manners?
By Bonnie Low-Kramen | November, 2020 | Published in Career Success Magazine, S. Africa
In my book, “Be the Ultimate Assistant,” I devote a chapter to good manners where I make the case that “Good Manners Matter.” In a workplace that has transformed in just a few months, do good manners, common courtesy, and civility still matter?
The answer is yes. More than ever. Manners just look a little different these days. Here’s what I mean.
A follower from across the world pointed out to me recently that she experiences me as exhibiting consistently good manners. She shared that these behaviors stand out because there are such bad manners in the world today.
I appreciate this feedback. My mother, Ruth Low, would be very pleased too. When I was growing up, my mother insisted on good manners as a way of showing respect for others. Over the years, I know for sure that the pay-off for these behaviors is real. It still is.
Good manners are not old-fashioned or old-school. At all. They are absolutely necessary for human beings to function at their highest potential. What follows is what I know from dealings with hundreds of assistants and leaders from my work in 14 countries and 38 states.
Despite the myriad of things that have changed with the pandemic and thousands of us working from home via webcam, with stress and anxiety off the charts, one thing is the same. Good manners are still about people treated with respect and consideration as individual human beings.
If I were to write a new chapter on manners in 2020, it would focus on the need for keeping it personal and never losing sight of the human on the other side of the room or the webcam.
Remember the Humans
The workplace is populated by humans. Humans who get tired, anxious, and act out in all kinds of way when they are under extreme stress.
The humans of our current workplace are increasingly worried about money, have kids they are home-schooling, aging parents to care for, and demanding pets. On top of that, wonky and unreliable Internet connections caused by too many people in the house being online, not to mention freaked out executives who don’t understand all the ways to navigate Zoom and/or Teams because you were always there to run the tech.
And, all of these factors impact how we relate to each other. Given the physical distance between us, unless we ask directly, we won’t know what is actually going on in the lives of others.
Good manners have become even more about patience, empathy, and understanding – in big doses. Plus, it is vitally important to keep your sense of humor and perspective during this trying time. We will all remember how people behaved in 2020, won’t we?
Out of sight, out of mind, out of manners
Good manners need to be intentional, especially so right now. For many, we were used to seeing one another in person every day. That is no longer our reality and won’t be so for quite some time. That means we must work hard at staying connected and exhibiting courtesy and good manners.
In addition, most of us are wearing face coverings/masks to stop the spread of the virus. (I’m a fan.) What is also true is that covering our faces hinders communication and can be de-humanizing. It is easier to be rude to someone we cannot see. We need to work extra hard to keep the connections personal when people look so different.
Professionalism = Respect + Empathy + Commitment to Excellence
FACT: There is no moving forward in a positive way in our workplace and our world without a commitment to professionalism and mutual respect. When humans feel genuinely respected, everything is possible.
- Productivity increases
- Retention increases
- Morale, loyalty, and teamwork improve
- Going above and beyond attitudes increase
- Profits improve
In contrast – When humans feel disrespected, that is a sure-fire formula for failure and for chasing good people away. How can you tell if people feel disrespected in a company? Take a look at the employee retention rate. That metric tells an important story because staff do not stay in jobs where they are disrespected and essentially, subjected to bad manners.
Top 3 Ways to Chase Humans Away
- Bully them
- Sexually harass them
- Ignore/ostracize them
Top 6 Ways to Show Respect (aka Good Manners)
- Say good morning, please, thank you, First Name – to everyone. (Pronounce the names right, too.)
- Enforce fair rules.
- Be transparent and accountable.
- On video calls…make eye contact which means looking into the camera rather than the monitor.
- Mute yourself while not speaking.
- Be prompt and apologize if you are late. Don’t make it a habit.
Good manners matter more than ever in our virtual world. Humans are social creatures and the sudden isolation has been traumatizing for many.
We cannot understate the enormity of what happens to humans under prolonged stress and anxiety. We have not even begun to see the mental health crisis triggered by the tumultuous months of 2020.
A kind word of caring, a hand-written card that is actually mailed, a smile, and an extra five minutes spent on hearing about the latest hilarious/crazy-making/infuriating thing your co-worker’s cat/child/executive did can mean the world to them.
These actions of good manners matter. It’s about the people. Always the people. My mother said so, and she was right. Thank you, Mom.
I am Bonnie Low-Kramen, TEDx speaker, author of “Be the Ultimate Assistant” and trainer of Executive Assistants all over the world. In May, 2019, I was featured in a Forbes online cover story. As part of the research for my second book about the workplace to be published in 2022, I have had over 1,000 conversations with assistants, leaders, HR professionals, recruiters, and business school professors. I have worked in 14 countries and 38 states and would love to work with you towards building your ultimate workplace. Click here to set up a time to speak with me about your training needs which can be delivered virtually or in person.