Striking a courteous chord

When we started developing the concept of please and thanks, we had no idea whether or not it would capture people’s imaginations.

Does courtesy really matter in people’s lives? Isn’t it just an old-fashioned idea with no relevance to the 21st Century? Can it actually benefit business financially to be polite?

From the responses we’ve received in our first few weeks, we’re certain that courtesy is important.

Business coach, Gwynneth Hewetson – who urged us to nurture the seed of our idea – has been mentioning the site to her contacts, who have passed it on to colleagues, who have then passed it on to further contacts in other organisations.

The media are also keen to find out what we’re about and, while it is the silly season for stories at the beginning of a new year, we do hope the interest will be maintained, because in 2004 we aim for 366 days of courtesy.

Courtesy is not just another New Year’s resolution to be broken – it’s a way of life.

One of the other responses is to be asked whether we are, perhaps, more courteous than other people. The answer is that we try to be as courteous as we can and that there’s always room for us to improve.

Yesterday, a business contact was quick to point out that I had not sent a thank you email for a favour that he had done. I had not forgotten, but, as I was in the middle of arranging a house move and tearing my hair out at the time, I had not sent the thank you email as fast as I could have done. I apologised to him and he apologised to me for not realising why I hadn’t emailed him.

This shows how much people need to be appreciated, especially when they have put themselves out for you. We need to demonstrate this appreciation openly – not through wild gestures or group hugs – but in genuine expressions of gratitude.

And it isn’t always easy when we’re rushed off our feet, under pressure at work or have just been cut up by another motorist and are tempted to take revenge.

But taking the trouble to be polite is worth it, because is can calm us down and make other people feel that they are appreciated. It can eliminate a lot of stress from our lives and make us realise how much of our own energy we put into being stressed; energy better spent doing what we really want to do.

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