Common Courtesy Is Required

I am of the “just suck it up and do what you’ve got to do” camp. In other words, don’t just sit around crying about it, get up and do something. A very close friend once told me that she won’t call me when she’s down unless she’s ready to be told to suck it up and get on with life.


One of the things I dislike most about Facebook is the tendency of so many people to just whine and complain all the time. I mean, a healthy rant now and then is all good and fine, and of course everybody needs a little cheering once in a while. But if every other post is of the my-life-is-so-hard variety, maybe you should consider making some changes, both to your life so that it isn’t so hard and to your attitude so that you can recognize the good stuff.


It’s not just Facebook, either. One of the reasons my social life has become severely limited in the last few years is that I lack patience with adults who just cannot seem to keep themselves together. I understand that people lose jobs, kids throw fits, unexpected debts hit you right at the worst time…those things happen toeverybody. If you tell me a sad story every time I see you, I’m going to start avoiding your company.


Lately, I’ve been reconsidering my position on these issues. Maybe I’m too harsh. Maybe my expectations are too high. Perhaps I should work toward being more forgiving and more helpful and kinder to my fellow humans. After all, you never know what’s what until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.


“But…but…” the little voice in my head stutters. “Is it really too much to expect people to be responsible and marginally courteous?” After much thought, the answer is no, it is not too much to expect, either in personal or professional situations.


You might imagine that courtesy in business is a given. You wouldn’t want to be rude to a prospective customer or worse, someone who is already a customer, right? But stop and think about it. I bet that without trying too hard, you can think of three or four instances when a company treated you poorly. Phone companies are renowned for poor service, and most everyone has a story involving terrible customer service at various retail establishments.


To me, it’s worse when the folks at a small business are rude. I seek out independently owned companies and will often choose to pay more in order to support small businesses and the sting of discourteous behavior is worse when it comes from the owner of the company. It’s sort of expected when you are dealing with a conglomerate — after all, it’s hard to get mad at the cashier at Wal-Mart who is earning $8.00 an hour, with no health insurance and bad hours, for not caring.


But when you know that the person being rude owns the business and needs customers to survive, you have to wonder. And this is where I usually end up questioning myself: Am I being a client from hell? Have I over-stepped some boundary? It sucks to find yourself questioning your own behavior because someone else has been rude, but that is my first reaction. Once I get through the self-analysis, I begin considering other possibilities: Maybe she’s having a bad day? Was the last person she talked to hateful?


Most of the time, I will even go back, at least once, if I have a relationship with the business. Like I said, everyone has bad days. More than once, though, and I take my business elsewhere, regardless of convenience, price or whatever. There just isn’t an excuse.

When businesses wonder how they can compete with big corporations, there is one answer regardless of the type of business and that is good service. Common courtesy should be just the beginning.

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