“Please.” “Thank you.” “Excuse me.” “I’m sorry.” Most of us were taught by our parents or other well-meaning adults to use those phrases liberally. Yet, says Keith Martino, author of Expect Leadership and head of CMI, a global consultancy that customizes leadership and sales development initiatives, “Simple as they sound, those phrases are often difficult for many people in the corporate culture to say.”
Martino has seen first hand, what good old-fashioned manners can do for a team culture. People care more about each other, communicate better, and work together more effectively. “There’s a great value and power to saying ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘thank you’ in the corporate world. The first time someone apologizes or says a genuine ‘thank you,’ the whole environment shifts,” he adds.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget your manners when you are busy, stressed or overwhelmed, but Martino warns leaders not to fall into that trap. “So many people in today’s corporate culture have lived through not being valued in the workplace. People are starving for the human touch.”
Martino offers these three reasons why you shouldn’t forget your manners, regardless the circumstances you’re facing.
To protect and rebuild relationships
Leaders who can put themselves in the shoes of an employee whom they berated can build strong bridges throughout the company by apologizing and showing a more respectful approach next time. “People feel more valued and no longer threatened,” Martino says.
A thank you to a deserving employee also forges a more trusting, respectful relationship. “Being specific and genuine with the thank-you heightens a person’s self-image, their view of the workplace, their boss and co-workers, and motivates them to keep up the good work,” Martino says.
It shows character
Being humble enough to say “I’m sorry” is the mark of a true leader, because it authenticates a person’s humanity, Martino says. Saying “thank you,” he adds, reflects an appreciation for others that is essential in building a successful team.
It energizes everyone
It’s easy to get wrapped up in daily business obstacles or an overloaded email box and skip saying “sorry” or “thank you.” “But when these new habits are formed, showing that everyone values everyone else, a spirit of cooperation flows like a river throughout the company, creating a consistently positive culture,” Martino says.
Keith Martino is head of CMI, a global consultancy founded in 1999 that customizes leadership and sales development initiatives. Martino is the author of Expect Leadership: The Executive Edition. After more than 20 years and numerous awards at FedEx, Xerox and Baxter Healthcare, Martino and his team provide world-class counsel and proven web-based tools that produce consistent results. He has been the keynote speaker at business development conferences for Xerox, Bass Pro Shops, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, the American Banking Association, Baker-Hughes, Shell Oil, RadioShack, Schlumberger, and others.