After going out for a coffee on Friday morning to my local café I was horrified at the manners of one particular gentleman. While waiting for my coffee he walked into the café and started to cough and then proceed to sneeze all over me without covering his mouth – when I made a comment he just laughed. What is the world coming to? Has everyone forgotten what manners are? As a result of this I have now spent the weekend in bed with the flu.
So, where are our manners going? In the recruitment game we see hundreds, if not thousands of people each year and to be very honest, manners and first appearances set you up. Whether I am meeting a client or candidate, general manners seem to be getting thinner on the ground.
I believe someone can be qualified and brilliant for the job, but with their good manners included this will become the icing on the cake. Good manners and proper workplace etiquette show respect for yourself and the company you are going to join or work with.
Let’s look at a pressing issue in general with regards to manners – Electronic Devices. Lift your head and look people in the eye. It is very rude to be checking your emails or ‘updating your status’ when someone is talking to you. You might as well be turning your back on them. If you’re sitting in a meeting or presentation put your phone away. You may think you are multi-tasking, but you are just being rude.
If you are sending an email, tweet or posting something on a business social media site – for goodness sake make sure you spell check – it is just good manners to ensure what you produce is correct. The amount of times I have read an email or resume that has spelling mistakes through it, and it instantly puts doubt in my mind. Another impoliteness often used is when trying to contact others on social media at work – hitting the connection key is like sending spam. Personalisation is important. To really harness the power of social media we need to create a relationship to network, so it is good manners to explain why you want to connect to this person instead of pushing the connection key. It just needs to be brief and correct.
If you’re attending an interview, make sure you know the name of the person you are meeting. It is good manners to be on time and again it is good manners to look them directly in the eye and shake their hand firmly when first meeting. Remember you are at a job interview so they do not need to know about all your personal issues. Stay professional and refrain from oversharing. I would also suggest it is courtesy to follow up with a thank you note to those who you have met.
In my 13 plus years in recruitment I have received only a handful of these from candidates and to be perfectly honest these are the candidates I have worked hard for in finding work and will do so again and again, because of their good manners.
Please do not underestimate the importance of the written word. A poorly written message will have the wrong impact. It is imperative to proof-read your work and don’t type in capitals or bold – this is just like you are shouting at someone – so again use common sense. Also ensure that the tone of your message is right, otherwise this will be lost on the reader.
Another issue I have come across recently is appropriate clothing. Check your attire. This should always be suitable for your work environment and outside social work events. It is a no brainer to pay attention to who you are meeting with and what might best fit with them. This does not mean you need to wear a suit every day, if you are in the creative space this would not be appropriate. It is never appropriate to wear thongs or tank-tops in an office environment as for one; it shows no respect and two, I would say safety would be a factor too.
My final say on manners is general – please show some respect for your colleagues work space. It is polite to ask if you are going to borrow something. Always use the correct tone in your voice – and remember to use words like thank you, please and you’re welcome. Remember – treat people like you would like to be treated yourself
I know some will think I am old fashion but these are small things that will go a long way.
“Manners maketh the man/woman”
Alicia Sumich – Group Manager; Business Development