The Importance of Being Polite & Professional

It may seem like common sense to be polite and professional to customers. Happy customers are repeat customers. And for business professionals who assist clients in engaging with customers, the same rules apply. Therefore, it is surprising to see how much that kind of common sense is not common place.

Wayne Hurlbert posted an article to his blog, Blog Business World, about the importance of being polite in 2007, and his words are just as true today:

“Being a polite and courteous person makes one a rare individual in today’s world. Politeness and a genuine concern for the rights and feelings of others in our society seem to have slammed the door in our faces. A culture of rudeness has become a feature of modern society.”

-Politeness: Respect for others pays

This can be found in many facets of life, including the business world, as many individuals have fallen prey to the plague of entitlement, believing that others should cater to them in every situation.

When dealing with a client, a true professional should always engage others in a way that projects that they are there for the client and the client’s needs. The most successful business relationships also have that idea reciprocated, but being treated courteously in return starts with treating others that way first.

Person to person contact may be seen as the easiest situations to remain polite, because we are more vulnerable and able to gauge the reactions of those around us. Email etiquette can be more difficult, since it is a fast and sometimes casually seen way of communicating where we tend to get lazy in how we interact.

“Being we live in an “all about me” culture, [the importance of courtesy and politeness] is foreign to many. They just want to do what they want to do — even in their business e-mails — without regard or having to think about anyone else. A healthy portion not even caring how their lack of e-mail etiquette will reflect negatively on how they may be perceived by potential customers, partners and employers alike. They seem to not be concerned if their lack of desire to communicate professionally will cause lost opportunity. Take them; or leave them! Many will choose to leave…”

-Business Email Etiquette

Texting is coming under some of the same scrutiny as email, as well as the idea of texting clients and customers at all since some see texting as lacking a personal touch, despite convenience.

Interacting with international clients presents another challenge. Cultural differences can create unintended impoliteness, but even in everyday business there are some very simple rules to follow.

Here are ten tips for being more polite and professional to better your business interactions:

1. Greet others courteously and with energy; coming across as lethargic can be taken as impolite

2. Thank a person at the beginning and end of every conversation or request

3. If you do not know someone well always be at least one step more polite and formal than you think necessary

4. Listen

5. If a customer or client is angry or complaining, remain calm and continue to listen to best solve the issue, or at least pacify rather than aggravate

6. Try to turn negative comments into something positive without ignoring the other person’s concerns

7. Own up to mistakes so you can move past them

8. Be conscientious of others’ schedules, as you may be dealing with different time-zones in non face-to-face interactions, and schedules can be tight during busy seasons

9. If an interaction has been successful, do not bring up aspects that could have been better, especially to the person you are speaking to

10. Never point out if someone else is being impolite; it won’t get you anywhere

Anyone in sales and customer service knows how an interaction with a client or customer can make or break your day. Successful business comes down to successful interactions. Being polite can only improve your chances to make that happen, so go out of your way to be more courteous than usual and see the difference it can make.