My 4-year-old pointed at me with outstretched arm and said in a matter-of-fact tone, “Mama, another piece of toast.”
Did I jump to get him another piece of toast? Absolutely not!
No self-respecting parent would pass up such a grand opportunity to teach manners yet again in the attempt to create a polite and civil member of society.
Why do parents spend continuous energy to give lessons in manners? Are manners simply a young child’s badge of honor, or are there applications in the real world?
I submit that manners are an absolute must for all ages, especially for those who desire to be leaders and influence others.
In fact, I submit that people placed in leadership positions who do not mind their manners are simply bullies with a title line on their business card.
No authentic leader lacks manners.
Why? It’s simple psychology. Let’s extrapolate the scenario with my son to an office situation.
Put your boss in the position of my son and you take my position. What’s your natural reaction to your boss pointing at you and stating in a demanding tone, “Do the report by 4:00 pm.”
No matter how much you may love and respect your boss, your natural reaction is likely along the lines of, “Who does he think he is?!” If you’re like me, it will also be quickly followed by a few smart retorts swirling around in your head about how you can tell him your thoughts in no uncertain terms.
This is why manners are integral in great leadership. Even if the statement is truthful, and you agree the report needs to be done by 4:00, the way in which it is addressed puts up thick walls that has now made the job of completing the report by 4:00 pm an unnecessary drudgery. Not only that, but the relationship has sustained damage.
Let’s reverse the scenario. If you as the boss politely ask a direct report to provide the report by 4:00 pm and their response is a lackadaisical shrug or lackluster, “Yeah, sure,” you can imagine the boss is unimpressed, at best.
Lack of manners is a guaranteed way to create roadblocks and break down (or even prevent) relationships.
Now we return to my son. Instead of focusing on the fact that I love this boy so much and I want to support him through yet another growth spurt and get him more food, I was focused on how this rude and ungrateful little pip squeak would dare boss me around. If I was thinking that of my dear, sweet boy, imagine what a boss thinks of a manner-less response!
If you struggle with simple manners, it behooves you to learn these easy and immensely foundational basics. You will not be able to influence for good and be with your team until this is accomplished.