John Mann

John Mann

Be Polite - a startup series (part 3/6)

Most of us are aware of what polite is, at least in our minds. However, you need to realize that what you consider polite and what other's consider polite may vary GREATLY.

Being a developer, I am a very linear individual, zeros and ones, black and white. Over the years, I have realized that sometimes things actually are grey at times. There are cases to consider another perspective, in may be wrong, but listening to that perspective so that individual is heard is important.

Being polite is simple. Being polite is not always easy depending on the individuals involved. :-)

Simple does not equal easy.

Here are some things to consider on each interaction:

  • Did you set an expectation that you can deliver?
  • Did you listen to that person's thoughts or ideas?
  • Did you respond with a thoughtful response or question?
  • Did you follow-up afterwards?
  • Did you consider their needs before your own

Now, pay attention... I stated did you consider their needs. I did not say, did you bend over backwards to facilitate every need they have. If you are doing everything for that individual, always the one reaching out first, always doing the work, you are not being polite, you are being a doormat. You need to consider their needs, and allow them to explain.

Let's apply some of this to everyday life...

If you let every car in while you are in traffic, you are not polite to the people behind you.

If someone emails you a question, AT LEAST acknowledge you have received the email and that you will get back with them at a specified time. Set that expectation!

If you ask someone a question and they respond to you quickly and then ask you a question, don't ghost on them because you don't want to answer them, because you got what you needed.

Being polite and etiquette go hand-in-hand.

We all have expectations of each other of employees, of family, of friends. We don't like to admit it, but we do. However, if we do not tell them of those expectations and still hold them to that, we get resentful when they fail to meet them. Speak up, ask for what you expect, be honest. It really helps when people know what you expect of them.

I have managed several teams and I always make sure they know what is expected of them. If they don't know, then that is on me for not communicating.

Being polite can take many forms and it can be paying for someone's coffee behind you in line, holding a door open for a person, or simply making eye contact and saying hello.

In the work world, being polite is respecting others: Control your volume, there is never a need to yell, except maybe to celebrate a huge win! Admit when you are wrong, and ask for help in resolving it. Tensions dissolve quickly when you ask for help. Apologize when you KNOW you acted inappropriately, if you are wondering if you did, then you probably did. No one questions when they are polite and nice. Respect other's time (goes pack to part 2 of this series, be punctual).

In the service industry, being polite is the same: Pay for work done. If you don't like the work, explain your concerns and give them the chance to fix it, but pay for the work done. Set expectations of what you want. This is so true of every aspect of life. No one can read your mind. Be helpful when you can, a simple gesture of trying to help goes a long way.

I could go on and on, being polite when you travel, understanding foreign culture etiquette, etc...

I'll stop for now...

Go out there and build something amazing and be humble and polite while you do it! The world will thank you.