Mind Your Manners

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”Eric Hoffer

Winning friends is a good way to create a supportive network — but it’s not the best way to influence your employees. The best leaders I know don’t concern themselves with being liked. Their focus is squarely on the business.

That said, you don’t want your employees to actively dislike you, because if they do, you will have a hard time getting them to follow you. Two ways to arouse their antipathy are (1) to be arrogant and (2) to be rude. Both are unnecessary and unproductive.

It may sometimes seem like a burden to be polite — but if you want to reach all your business goals with the least interference, you must learn to be instinctively considerate.

How do you do that? It’s very simple — by practicing good manners. Basically, being well-mannered means being considerate of other people. You DON’T:

  • interrupt meetings
  • break into conversations
  • send angry e-mails
  • say bad things about fellow workers
  • pass rumors
  • shout
  • use vulgarities in speech
  • embarrass your employees
  • criticize in public

You DO:

  • Smile and say “hello” to everyone you see each day (including your assistant).
  • Listen attentively when your subordinates speak, even if what they are saying makes little or no sense.
  • Always speak with a positive tone of voice.
  • Say “please” or “thank you” every time it’s warranted.
  • In casual conversation, show concern for the other person. (Ask questions; don’t just answer them.)
  • Praise your employees specifically and publicly.
  • Apologize quickly when you do something that hurts someone’s feelings.
  • When you make a mistake, admit it immediately and set it right.
  • Know and use the first and last names of all employees who report to you.
  • Show your respect for the people around you by being well-dressed, well-groomed, and well-spoken.

Having strong business skills will set you apart from your peers. Articulating a vision will distinguish you as a leader. These are the two fundamental aspects of leadership. But courtesy, consideration, and good manners will make everything you want to do get done faster and easier.