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Why minding your manners at work can pay dividends

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The open plan office working and growth of hot-desking means we are all working in closer proximity with our colleagues than ever before. Consequently, manners, politeness and respect in the workplace have never been so important.

One company that has been promoting the importance of good manners is Tesco. Earlier in 2016, the retail giant discussed the fact its managers were encouraged to say “please” and “thank you” to staff and praise them when they did a good job. The strategy appears to have worked. In April, Tesco announced a pre-tax profit of £162m, its first quarter of growth since 2013.

But any company looking to replicate this success will need to do more than simply ask managers to say please and thank you – as this is unlikely to deliver long lasting change. Instead, encouraging good manners at work is a strategy that needs to be supported by a cultural change. Good manners and respect for others needs to be a core part of the company values and embedded in the culture. People need to think and behave differently in a way that is more empathetic, kind and caring – they need to tune into the emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence governs how we behave, how we think and what we say, our relationships with others and how we make decisions at work which will impact others, our own performance and results. 

Why managers need to become more emotionally intelligent

Emotionally intelligent managers are self-aware – they understand their own emotions and those of others. They know themselves – their strengths and weaknesses, warts and all. This enables them to be in control of their emotions at work and they can empathise with their colleagues. They build strong relationships because they know how to react in different situations and what to say and do to make others feel better and what it takes to inspire them. 

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They don’t say “please” and “thank you” because they have been directed to; they do it naturally because they genuinely value and respect their colleagues and want to build a good relationship with them. They also are acutely aware of how their emotions can impact others. They know that if they come to work in a bad mood and snap or criticise their colleagues, they will lose their trust you and their colleagues may well take it personally and believe they have done something wrong. The good news is that everyone can become more emotionally intelligent by following these simple tips:

Tap into your emotions throughout the day –  paying attention to what you feel and how those feelings contribute, distract, enhance, or challenge you. Don’t judge yourself – simply note how you feel – this will help you become more self-aware

Take time to observe your team too, notice how they are feeling and thinking

Be empathetic. You may not feel the same way as they do but you may have experienced the same emotion for a different reason. Use this experience to show empathy

Lead by example. Show your team the importance of becoming more emotionally aware in the workplace

Have the courage to be wrong. Admitting mistakes and learning from them shows character and integrity

Encourage open communication by listening and being curious about what is being suggested. People in the workplace can often be defensive and showing you are interested in them can open up better communication

Take the time to acknowledge and thank your team for their effort, and celebrate success.

Seeing the value of good manners and cultivating a culture of kindness is something everyone can do. This has many benefits including improved employee retention and performance, as well as the feel good factor that can be hugely motivating.

There is great power in showing appreciation and remembering what we were taught as children about treating others as you’d like to be treated is as useful in adulthood as it was as a child.

Marielena Sabatier is executive coach and founder of Inspiring Potential.

However, politeness could be costing UK businesses according to the latest research into expenses claims, lead by cloud-based expenses management company, webexpenses.

Image: Shutterstock

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