3 Reasons Why Being Polite at Work Matters

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3 Reasons Why Being Polite at Work Matters

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Recently I’ve heard a lot of chatter about manners, being polite, and proper etiquette. Being honest, much of that chatter stems from conversations about our workforce generations. However, I’m not convinced that it is a generational issue, does being polite at work matter?

Some might argue that work is work and just doing your job is all that is important. Does doing your job mean that you are not social, courteous, and polite?

Of course, in some very specialized circumstances perhaps you can work in a vacuum or behave like a robot. A word of caution though, if you want to behave like a robot then you might very well be treated like one.

Polite Matters

Politeness matters and it is often connected with the concept of rude behavior, an image or stereotype that every business or individual should choose to avoid.

Here are three of many reasons why being polite at work matters:

  1. Greetings. Greeting people with a kind, friendly, and caring attitude is important for sales and for customer service. Every business needs people (internal and external) who can be friendly with their greetings. It is important for networking, for revenue and profit, and simply put, it builds a good image and strengthens professional reputations.
  2. Reduces Anxiety. People sometimes joke about anxiety medication, but in many real life situations, people have high anxiety in the workplace. When our anxiety levels go up our communication skills go down. We might stop talking, start reliving past negative experiences or simply stop listening.
  3. Improves Decisions. Everyone makes decisions every day. In our workplace roles, we often encounter important decisions that condition business results. When the culture and atmosphere is more polite and courteous it keeps people from being hung up on non-productive issues which dramatically improves the decision making process.

Being Polite

Is being polite part of your performance measurement? It probably should be, even if it is not formally connected to job performance. It is something that every individual should strive to deliver.

Jokes about needing coffee, or not being awake yet, or accusations that someone is too chipper in the morning should be minimized. They are all poor excuses.

There are other behaviors too. For example, meeting etiquette is often problematic. Expressing that meetings are boring, showing up late, and having side conversations while someone else has the floor are all signs of poor professional etiquette.

Have you witnessed behaviors that should be improved? Do you believe being polite at work matters?


Originally posted on July 25, 2017, last updated on November 5, 2019.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Sandie Fairman

July 26, 2017at 9:43 am

Hi Dennis,
I couldn’t agree more. Being in the workplace for more than a few years, politeness and social graces lubricate the wheels of business. Even if we don’t feel chipper some mornings, it’s not everyone else’s problem. There are exceptions, of course, such as family tragedies or recovering from an accident, that leave us feeling sad and vulnerable for periods of time. In those instances, co-workers can be very understanding and our biggest ally.

    Dennis Gilbert

    July 26, 2017at 1:51 pm

    Yes, organizations with a culture that encourages and supports good professional etiquette which includes being polite have much lower employee turnover and happier customers. Thanks for your comment!!! 🙂

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