Manners? We Don't Have Those Anymore

Last Updated Aug 5, 2009 7:31 AM EDT


At the point of sale â€"- which can mean a shop, a B2B transaction, or online (for both) -â€" bad manners can kill repeat business.

Example: A while ago a good friend of mine, a mild-mannered Irishman, was in the US. He was paying to get in to a movie theatre. Met with silence when the purchase was complete, he addressed the person who just sold him the ticket: "Whatever happened to 'Thank You'?"

"Oh, we don't say that anymore," she replied, not missing a beat.

We don't say that anymore? Who decided that? Was it company policy, a generational thing or had he missed that ruling being handed down by the Supreme Court?

Another friend of mine, an Englishman working in Spain, reminded me that it can be unusual there for a customer to say thank you in a shop. Sure, the shop assistant should and usually does, but not the person receiving products or services after handing over their hard-earned. Which, while different to what we tend to call 'manners' in the UK, kind of makes sense.

So now I make a point of holding the attention of a rude assistant. (They're usually shamed into a late 'Thanks'.) In business environments I smile broadly and often mention that I can't wait for the Thank You email.

I also tell everyone about places that are particularly unhelpful, though unfortunately many -â€" and this is a cause of some rudeness â€"- are places you have no choice in using. Still, I hope I've lost some ignorant souls some business and rewarded those who do things the right way.

Which I guess brings me to my bigger question: is service deteriorating? Is this kind of behaviour exacerbated by the recession (and I should cut some slack)? Or is it just symptomatic of larger ignorance in our societies?

Would love to hear your thoughts and any examples. But be polite.

(Photo: debaird, CC2.0)