Thursday, October 16, 2008

Would politeness help?

I’m back - miss me? I bet you didn’t even notice. We’re all so busy these days with jobs, family, keeping the roof from leaking and finding time to sleep that life is passing at breakneck pace.

So I escaped on a brief vacation.

The thing that strikes me every time I travel is how nice folks are. They say ‘hi’ when they pass a stranger on the sidewalk. They don’t seem to sit on the phone/RIM while eating a meal. I hear a lot of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. No one interrupts a train of thought in an attempt to complete my sentence for me. Why is it so striking that old-fashioned politeness comes to fore on vacation but we feel free to discard it during our regular working hours?

I think that’s a part of why we are often so uncomfortable with networking. It is transactional. We treat folks like a bank machine that is only of interest if we can get something out of them. We treat strangers and acquaintances as obstacles to getting our goals accomplished swiftly. And we’re exposed to the same treatment in return. In our rush to ‘get things done’, we’re rude in the name of business.

Heck, I don’t even answer my phone with “Hello?” anymore. I state my name and the person calling gets right to business. (I changed that today and kicked off a meeting with a personal anecdote! gasp!)

Would networking be more comfortable if we all treated each other a bit more gently in our day-to-day interactions? Treating others as an end in and of themselves vs. the means to our own needs?

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