by CIO Staff

Businesspeople Need Common Courtesy

Aug 31, 20053 mins


With the pressures of daily work, it is sometimes easy to overlook the impact that words and actions can have on subordinates and peers. Time has become the precious commodity in business and being more respectful of people’s time could be the key ingredient to make life at work at least a bit more manageable.

The overwhelming majority of senior executives and managers say that respecting people’s time would make business better, based on a nationwide survey conducted by NFI Research.

“If everyone valued others’ time as much as their own, workplace courtesy would be greatly improved,” said one survey respondent. “It is that lack of respect (intentioned or not) that results in the most egregious courtesy breaches.”

Only five percent of executives and managers say that people conducting business today are extremely courteous, with a third saying that people are either not very courteous or not at all courteous.

“People are too busy to be courteous,” said one respondent. “With e-mail and instant messaging, everything is a shortcut. The part that is left out is the little things that tell people we respect them. In the very busy world we live in, a little common courtesy would go a long way toward helping us all work together in a less stressed and more enjoyable way.”

Said another: “Much courtesy in business today is a false front welded onto customer service. It rings hollow and is easily detectable. Real courtesy is a personal attribute that people either have or do not. Absence of courtesy often accompanies (perceived) lack of time and pressure to achieve.”

In addition to respecting people’s time, the top ways to make conducting business better, according to survey respondents, are to run meetings efficiently, be punctual, thank people and start meetings on time.

Businesspeople can increase courtesy by some small steps.

  • Have a goal. Set deadlines. Stay on the subject. Be considerate of others’ times and commitments.
  • Return phone calls.
  • Use “mute” on conference calls when not speaking. Don’t interrupt when others are speaking.
  • Acknowledge and respond to e-mails. “No one, even business partners, feel the need to return phone calls or e-mails,” said one respondent. “I have critical business that involves them and cannot get responses.”
  • Be organized and stay on point.
  • Avoid distractions of any type, to build trust through honoring and respecting those with whom you are interacting.
  • Manage your environment so that you are respectful of people’s time, by totally focusing on the conversation you are in at the moment.

Since the workplace is where people spend a fair portion of their lives, work should be a place a person wants to be.

In the interruptive society of work today, more focus on common courtesy by showing more respect for the time of others might just make some of those long days seem a bit shorter.