Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a long list of pet peeves. They range from people eating like washing machines through to media call round lists littered with ‘voicemail’ as an update. The latter is likely to send me into outer space. But I digress. The king of all peeves, for me, is bad manners. Now you might be reading this thinking that perhaps your mum has started a blog and you’ve somehow stumbled upon it. No, I can assure you that I am sub-35 and have a bee in my bonnet about manners.
This might be odd given that I work in PR and that as well as working with a lot of lovely people, I also interact with a lot of rude people. It would be conceivable to think that I spend a lot of time secretly seething. But there is a difference between a journalist that finds new and inventive ways to be rude to you, for example, and plain bad manners. Rudeness I can cope with. Poor manners I cannot.
But why does this even matter? You might not even realise it, but good manners can be the difference between winning an account or losing it. No respectable agency would go to a pitch and not be polite to the receptionist. The use of the words ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are well received. In a number of pitch situations where we have won, part of the feedback – aside from the strategy, ideas, quality of team etc – was that on top of all that, the receptionist thought that we were lovely. First impressions matter, and if you’re bad mannered with the receptionist, what does that say about your approach to people in what is still very much a people industry? Are you the right agency to be conveying the client’s message to the wider world?
Bad manners simply have no place in modern business. Yet good manners create the right impression and ensure that people want to deal with you. And when used to their best effect, they make people feel good about themselves. This last point is underlined by a recent event in our office. The lovely @amyredhead interviewed a potential intern, who we then offered a position. He is American and coming to the UK in a few weeks. We’re excited about him starting and feel we can learn a lot from him (he is a real networker) and vice versa. But do you know what really made us exclaim with delight? The fact that when he got back to the US he wrote us a handwritten note of thanks. That right there is the power of good manners AND good PR.