Manners is an old fashion concept. Courtesy, consideration, empathy with the other? All in one? Manners are the behavioural expression of all of the above.
When you see them, you will appreciate them. Speaking for myself, I am told by reliable external observers, that I am transformed into a mini monster when confronted with lack of them, automatic pilot customer services or robotic, scripted explanations of anything.
A local restaurant, part of a chain, busy night. There is one table left. We were pointed towards it. About to sit, I am told I have to wait 30 minutes for food. I react with puzzlement not about the 30 minutes per se, but the fact that this comes from the sky when I am about to sit down. My puzzlement apparently puzzles the head waiter: ‘Well, don’t you see? We are very busy!’. I can’t describe how I left the place, but I was not nice.
A conversation with very senior health officials in charge of large hospitals. They say the ‘customer centric’ stuff is easy: some patient wards are hell, some are superhuman. Both share the same resources, both in the same hospital, both equally stressful. The key? The Charge Nurse, the nurse at the head. Plant the right ones, and the difference is life or death.
In a transportation Viral Change™ Programme we asked the dispatchers of buses to stop calling people by numbers and learn their names. We went from ‘240, received, how come you late again, 375 could you pick up that kid, 489, not good enough, you both 489 and 673 have to go now to 23 East, pronto’ to talking to Peter, John and Mary. It was not that hard. The bus drivers thought that a miracle had been performed (or brain transplant of the dispatchers). Then, it was not hard to follow with the drivers calling the kids by their names. Versus mmmm, or other noises. Their kids were always the same day after day. It was not rocket science to get to know their names, but that was not how the system worked. Until it changed. Guess what? Some kids started to reciprocate and calling the drivers by their names. OMG, revolution. The humans have landed.
I have written several times about the #hellomynameis campaign started by Dr Kate Granger. It’s not about wearing a badge saying #hellomyname is Peter, although the badge is included. It’s about humanity. But, hey, you get the badge, and you see another hundred around you, and it’s all smiles and introductions to strangers by name. Oh, those humans, how easy is to change them, how stupid is that ‘resistant to change’ stuff.
Get ‘manners’ right (that’s the behaviour), get culture as a consequence (not the other way around)
Consideration, courtesy, empathy, respect, humanity? The culturalist says, get them, you’ll have manners. The behaviourist says, install manners, you’ll get the culture.
It’s both, the Always Is Both People say. But, mmm, you may know by now of which school I am.