Growing up, I was taught to say “please” and “thank you,” to put my napkin on my lap and to keep my elbows off the table. Sometimes dinnertime wasn’t a lot of fun since I kept forgetting the elbow rule. But those lessons became engrained in my head and I follow them today.
At the same time, I was also taught to take responsibility for my actions and to be considerate of others. If I was going to be late for anything (although that was a big no-no in my home!), I had to call the person who was waiting for me and tell them I was running behind. If I wasn’t going to show up for something, then I had to do the same. If I said I was going to do something, I did it, and if I said I wasn’t, I didn’t. If someone called me, I called back. If they wrote, I wrote back. My parents just expected certain behavior from me, and again, those lessons became a part of who I am.
So what’s the problem? Well, I expect the same from other people, both in my personal and professional life, and I just don’t “get it” when others don’t show common courtesy.
An example or two….
A year ago, I was working with a fun, enthusiastic couple who wanted to purchase a home in my area. We must have looked at forty homes, and we put offers in on a few of them, but the deals didn’t get past the offer stage. I received a text message one day that they were taking a “break for the holiday” and they would be ready after that. This was last Thanksgiving. After the holiday, I called. No response. I emailed. No response. So I waited till the next holiday, and tried to contact them again. No response. Now there have been five holidays in between; I’ve sent a few notes/calls from time to time, but no response at all.
It would have taken them all of a minute to just send me a note back indicating they were looking in another area, or didn’t want to continue our professional relationship, or were too depressed to continue but would be back, or whatever! It would also only have taken them a few minutes to make a phone call. I feel responding is just common courtesy.
And then there is the lady who just “had to” get a rental property asap, so I made arrangements to meet her at the property. We confirmed a day ahead of time, and I arrived early to get the place ready, and I waited. Ten minutes after she was supposed to arrive, I called and the call went to voice mail. I indicated in the voice mail that I was there for our confirmed appointment and would wait another 5 minutes. No response. This happened with several people several times. No response ever. I never heard from them again.
While most of the people I meet do still know how to practice courtesy, which I tremendously appreciate, the percentage that don’t practice those skills seems to be increasing. Letting someone know you’re going to be late or aren’t going to show or aren’t going to ever come back is just common courtesy. The same as saying “please” or “thank you.” If you don’t currently do this, try it! In my opinion, it’s just the right thing to do.