15.12.20 / Posted by jirehconsult

Courtesy is a great virtue in life. Courtesy in its simplest form is treating others with warmth and respect; being considerate, responsive, and kind in our interactions with people. It is an act of civility and good manners. It is the cornerstone of etiquette, yet is oft overlooked with increasingly digital communications. describes courtesy as having excellent manners, polite behaviour, and social conduct. Merriam-Webster meanwhile defines it as good manners or respect for others. Having good behaviour and doing nice things for others without ulterior motives will can bring positive effects in both personal friendships and business relationships alike.

A society populated by courteous people offers greater quality of life than one where people are rude and inconsiderate. In a survey of some 1.5 million people by a global travel site, Malaysia’s capital city emerged as the second friendliest city in the world. “Malaysians are naturally friendly and nice to strangers, and Kuala Lumpur is the best example of this. The easy-going temperament of locals and their friendliness towards visitors means that it’s easy to make friends here,” the study goes on to state.

Kuala Lumpur was behind only to Vancouver, Canada. Canadians have earned a reputation as being excessively apologetic i.e. they would rather apologise than find themselves in any form of conflict. The saying goes that if you bump into a Canuck, they would most probably apologise for being in your way. Juxtapose this with citizens of the City that Never Sleeps, New York City. New Yorkers have gained the unenviable stereotype of being rude, impatient, uptight and snobbish.

Generally speaking, city folk tend to be less courteous than their suburban and countryside counterparts. This may be because city folk adopt this guarded state as a defense mechanism having been raised in the hustle and bustle of city life. A dog eat dog world as they say.

Cutthroat corporate culture could be a reason for the lack of courtesy as well. Employees are groomed to chase KPIs at all costs or suffer repercussions. This may lead to a culture of only looking out for themselves and adopting the WIIFM attitude — what’s in it for me?

As companies become larger, the need to stand out becomes greater. Not doing so can hamper career progression and lead to unnecessary stress. Lashing out or taking advantage of others can become more commonplace. Sometimes even genuine acts of kindness can be misread as a person trying to gain an advantage over someone else. This breeds a viscous cycle.

For many people today, the majority of communication is neither face-to-face nor real time. In addition to the prevalence of email and voicemail, teleconferences and videoconferences have replaced other opportunities for in-person get-togethers. The result of this shift is that much more of our work today is conducted impersonally, which may mean that there may be less pressure to observe social niceties.

At any rate, courtesy costs nothing and only has upsides. It is always good to follow basic guidelines for social or business etiquette. Random acts of kindness like paying things forward are even better. You may discover that one small gesture or offer of help can make the difference to someone’s entire day. Respect towards others should be standard behaviour in the workplace and society, regardless of role, rank, or reputation.

Nobody should be taken for granted.