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That Is Just so Rude!

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day, and she commented how people simply wouldn’t return phone calls and we both said in unison, “that is just so rude.” Frankly, that one small example of simply not calling people back has become more of a standard practice, than an exception. This got me thinking … there have been so many books written of late about emotional intelligence (EQ), building your brand, learning and leveraging your strengths, learning your personality type and how this effects your work—the list goes on, yet, so many of us have simply lost the basics.

So, why are we becoming such a rude culture?

There is a clear distinction between being rude and being in a hurry and having different priorities. There is also a clear distinction between telling the truth and telling the truth rudely. Since when do we have to be “rude” to get our jobs done? And why are we allowing this to become the “new way” of conducting business? (Is this the role model we want to give the younger generation? Think about how we feel when they answer us in a less than respectful tone? Pretty hot!)

Yes, there have always been rude people; and yes, there probably always will be. However, in our electronic world of increasing impersonalization, we have made it so much easier.

We can, however, change this gravitational pull, (if that is what we want, and we should, given our global work environment). I also believe, on a grander scale that being conscious of not being rude can absolutely lay the foundation for a better culture, stronger work relationships, a more cohesive team, better results, and frankly, a happier lifestyle.

Sure, this is basic, yet who says the greatest gems to facilitate change and foster collaboration have to be complex theories or methodologies based on complicated assessments?

Here are 5 basic things to remember, which I believe will help us all improve the “rudeness factor” in our lives—professionally and personally.

Stop interrupting!!
Curb the impulse to cut folks off. Often we do this because we believe what we have to say is more important. Or we believe we already know what they are going to say. Or we don’t want to (or care to) hear what they are going to say. Or we just think they are “slow or dumb” and they are wasting your time. Or we are actually trying to support what the person is saying— so we zealously jump in mid-stream. Whatever the reason—this is just rude.

Just return the phone call!
No need to belabor this one. We just need to call people back – promptly. It is simply not that hard. Even if we don’t want what they are selling, we don’t support the cause they are pushing, or we just really don’t want to talk to them; why can’t we just call back and be honest, or worst case leave a polite, responsive voicemail message for them?

In business, I have unfortunately been the recipient of quite rude behavior of late. In one case, several emails and voice mails went unanswered for about 2 weeks. What is that about? Needless to say, my attitude toward the person when I finally reached him was compromised. Ironically, I was actually going to introduce this business associate into an opportunity! When we finally connected, I had changed my mind.

Listen, really listen.
This actually goes right along with the stop interrupting suggestion. There is an art to listening, of truly being in the moment with the other person, looking them in the eye, acknowledging what they are saying and asking questions to further explore their positions. When we are the recipients of a kind listener, it is contagious. We want to listen to them. Imagine the power of this with our clients, our prospective customers, our partners, our employees, our husbands, our wives, and our children.

For heavens sake, slow down.
We are all running at such a pace. Clients demand it, management demands it (even the children’s activities do). Thus, the story of the gazelle and the lion:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. The moral: It doesn’t matter if you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running!”

My question is why do we think that common courtesies are dispensable when we are in a hurry? The little things throughout the day, which we ‘think’ take so much time really don’t. Go ahead, let a car pass in front of you on the freeway, talk to the neighbor as you are walking the dog, visit with the person in hallway who just needs to connect or invite someone with a heavier load in front of you in the grocery line.

The reality is the same whether at work or off hours. When we slow down, even just a little, we will observe things we don’t when we are so rushed.

Please, thank you, and I’m sorry.
These few words are something we were taught when we were growing up. These should be the easy ones. Yet, I cannot believe how many interactions I have on email, voicemail and in person where I never hear a please or a thank you. Never. For some reason, this often gets lost in the pressure cooker of life and business.

The strongest and most successful leaders with whom I have worked were the ones that took the time to thank, to acknowledge hard work, to say please and yes, to say “I’m sorry” when a mistake had been made or an injustice had occurred. These few words can turn the most difficult of conversations into the most palatable, most meaningful, and the most inspiring conversations a leader can have.

Yes, it is personal—and that does not mean it is all about you.
This is like the line from the movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan when the large corporate book chain forces the closing of the little shop around the corner, and he says “this is just business, not personal.” Meg Ryan’s character pushed back and said, “I just don’t get that! It may not be personal to you; that is because it is not happening to you.” Precisely. There is a saying; “it is never a big deal until it happens to you.” How true this is! Life is personal. Our interactions are personal. And yes, business is personal— because it consists of interactions between persons.

We can and do build great teams, lead incredible transformations and achieve remarkable goals. What I am also certain of is this: we can do none of these things without others. Period. Our personal interactions and relationships are the key to success—personally and professionally.

It’s my hope that ALL of us will recognize these basics are the building blocks—of respect, of relationships, of partnerships. And, as with all fruitful treasures, that is where the juice is!