Good manners are good business, and a little genuine courtesy can make a great, lasting first impression. Courteous people make us feel welcome, valued, and comfortable in social situations. Since September is National Courtesy Month, below are a few easy ways to incorporate common courtesy into your professional life.
- Try not to dominate the conversation. Whether at an event or with people you know well, avoid monopolizing the discussion, and steer clear of controversial or overly personal subjects altogether. When speaking with others, be a good listener. People appreciate being heard because it confirms that their thoughts and feelings matter, which can foster a deep sense of trust.
- Don’t be too touchy-feely. Outside of shaking hands, you should wait for the other person to establish the “touch rules” of your interaction. Some people are huggers or back patters by nature. Let them hug or pat first and don’t reciprocate beyond polite courtesy. Anything more might make them feel uncomfortable, and minimizing another person’s discomfort is key to being courteous.
- Handle awkward situations with tact. When witness to an embarrassing situation, resist the urge to retreat and instead confront your discomfort head-on. Retreating from the situation can send an unintended message of aversion. Instead, diffuse the awkwardness by being kind: help the other person involved, change the subject to a topic of mutual interest, or give a compliment.
- Don’t judge others and don’t push your own opinions. The most likeable people understand the importance of non-judgmental validation. Make an effort to seek other’s opinions, even if you disagree with them, and show an interest to build rapport. Nothing kills a conversation like contradiction, and what’s right for you isn’t right for everyone. Quell your ego and keep the conversation fun.
- Be courteous in everything you do. Your actions make a lasting impression on others, so remember to be generous and kind in all circumstances. Keep the needs of others in mind, slow down and think before you react, and be respectful.