I'm working on this initiative at my day job. It's an internal customer service campaign that I like to call "Pleased Passengers."
The crux of the message is this: If you can't treat your co-workers with respect, dignity, and common courtesy, you certainly won't be displaying exemplary customer service. In fact, perhaps you shouldn't be allowed to go outside and play with others.
But seriously, peer-to-peer respect isn't just a good idea; it is imperative to the ultimate, collective success of any company, organization, or association.
Or community. Or family. Or circle of friends.
My point is, sometimes we all, myself included, can benefit from a little refresher course on the finer points of civility. After all, that and opposable thumbs are pretty much what sets us apart from the rest of the food chain, right?
At one point or another, we've all been on the receiving end of poor customer service, unhelpful assistance, or plain, old tactless or mean-spirited behavior. It smarts, doesn't it?
So, as I recount some of my program's main points with you, I'd ask you to substitute "family member," "friend," or even "stranger" with the words "co-worker" or "colleague" where appropriate.
l Do you greet co-workers pleasantly?
l Do you make requests politely?
l Is your voicemail message friendly?
l Are you open and courteous?
l Do you smile inside and out?
Sometimes? Most of the time? When you're not stressed out and having a bad day?
And what about more subtle, indirect, and even unintentional hurtful behavior, such as:
l Needless CC'ing of executives (Did you really have to "Reply All" or leapfrog your colleague and go straight to his/her boss?)
l Chronically unanswered calls, e-mails (Nothing says "You are of no value to me" like, well, saying nothing.)
l Interruption of meetings and dismissal of attendants (Blech! It shows poor form.)
l Public reprimands (If you think it's embarrassing at work, consider how your kids feel when you ream them up one side and down the other in front of their pals. Ouch.)
l Hiding behind the phone or your computer (If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it.)
l Insensitive non-verbal cues (Unwelcoming or dismissive hand gestures, head shaking back and forth, negative facial expression)
l Being an inactive listener (Not looking up from your computer during a face-to-face conversation. Yikes - I'm so guilty of this when on a deadline!)
Have you ever heard of that series of health books titled "Eat This, Not That?" Think of this next batch as "Say This, Not That."
"Would you mind please ?" instead of "Here's what you need to do"
"I'm sorry I'm unable to but let me help you find the person you need" instead of "I can't help you."/"Not my job. "
"How may I be of assistance?" instead of "What do you want?"
"That's an interesting notion, shall we discuss it further later?" instead of "No one asked for your opinion" (The latter is never acceptable, by the way.)
"Let's table that thought for private discussion, shall we?" "That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard."
Really, folks, there is a nice way to say almost everything. And words matter.
At the end of the day, here's what I want people to walk away with:
l Kindness: It's the new black!
l Would you talk to your mother / preacher / boss that way?
l It's really as simple as common courtesy.
l The Golden Rule is golden for a reason.
When each of us reaches the end of our individual journey, how much money we made, the square footage of our house, and the make and model of our car will not have been what mattered, my friends. It's the way we treat others that is the true measure of our worth.
Actually, I think Thumper's mother (from the classic animated children's movie "Bambi") said it best when she told her little bunny boy, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."
Happy chatting, everybody!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her politely at firstname.lastname@example.org