Common Courtesy

In last week’s My View From the Cockpit I wrote about the dying art of Customer Service. This week I’d like to add to that discussion with some thoughts on Common Courtesy in today’s world.

Is it just me or have we abandoned many of the common courtesies we were taught by our parents, growing up? Have we turned into Internet driven droids, relying on typed smiley faces and ‘ikes’ to replace an actual smile and polite, real-life interaction?

Here are three phrases in particular that I have yet to find Internet substitutes for:


I don’t hear it much at all today.

  • When I’m as a restaurant, I hear “Give me the special” and not “May I please have the special?”
  • Or in a manufacturing environment I hear “Get me some material down here to the ABC machine and not “Could you please bring some more material down to the ABC machine?”
  • Or, “Get those reports to me by noon Friday?” and not “Please get your reports to me by noon on Friday.”

I don’t know about you, but I respond much differently when some asks me politely versus being ordered to comply with a demand. After all, I had my fair share of direct orders as a fighter pilot in the Navy!

Thank You:

Here’s another phase I don’t hear too often.

  • I’ll hold a door open for someone and quite often don’t even get an acknowledgement response. Or if there is a response, it’s more of grunt than a proper “Thank You.”Thank You.”?
  • At a luncheon last week I sat at a table with 6 other people. I found it strange that no one at the table other than myself said “Thank You” to the staff when they brought the food, filled the ice tea glasses of cleared the table.  Has a newfound sense of entitlement replaced basic gratitude?
  • I watched a man, who was not a flight attendant, help a business lady put her luggage in the overhead bin on an airplane as she chatted away on her cell phone. Once he took the bag from her, she just plopped down, continued talking on her phone and never said a word to him.  How rude!

When did we forget the basic courtesy of acknowledging others and saying “Thank You” when they help us? It makes me feel good after I’ve helped someone and they look me in the eye and say “Thank You.”  It makes me want to pay it forward and help someone else.

Excuse Me:

This one simply amazes me.

  • Walking through a department store, airport concourse, or trade show and someone bumps into you. Quite often they don’t even turn around much less offer an “Excuse Me.”
  • At the grocery store, you’re reviewing the choices on the shelf and someone reaches right in front of you and takes something off the shelf, never acknowledging you even exist,much less apologizing.
  • Or while driving down the street, someone pulls right out in front of you and doesn’t even ‘wave’ acknowledging their actions.

How hard is it to turn to someone and say “Excuse Me” when you’ve inconvenienced them in some way?

These three little phrases that used to be so common in our daily lives have somehow become lost along the way.

If we expect to improve our levels of Customer Service in business, then we need to make a conscious effort and get “back to basics” in all areas of life, and that starts with treating people the way we want to be treated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *