One sure-fire sign of macho management is lack of courtesy. A pressure cooker environment doesn’t make space for pleasantries. Microwave management doesn’t leave time for politeness. A slow management environment sees the value in civility and fosters it graciously.

Courtesy is a skill that must be practiced and likely relearned from time-to-time. It is a fundamental no business can afford to lose. It is a basic that serves as gold-plating to any business or business professional.

“Good morning, ma’am.”

“Courteous” is defined in part by Webster as “marked by respect for and consideration of others.” The simple dignity of a polite greeting sends a message: “I value you.” A small gesture may change the entire tone of the conversation to come.

Courtesy adds precious seconds to the transaction, but gives hours of goodwill to the relationship. A gracious formality or two lubricates the discussion. Courtesy resists the microwaving of the relationship.

Courtesy is a polish that reaches across class and wealth. The refinement of civility is accessible to anyone, regardless of rank or education. Like most basic skills, its cost of use is relatively low. Like most fundamentals, its value is relatively high.

“Good morning, sir.”

Time is one of the three key ingredients of courtesy. Civility adds time and effort to the interaction. Politeness means waiting while someone organizes their thoughts. Civility prevents you from pouncing on someone the moment they are not occupied.

Being polite adds time to your transactions. One viewpoint is that you will have lost multiple minutes in etiquette and ritual. Another viewpoint is that you have invested those clock ticks in the joy and well-being of your fellow human beings. Of course, you may be saving time after all. A few moments pause may allow them to organize a more complete response to your question. A less harried co-worker might be prepared to give you what you want.

“How have you been?”

Sincerity is is the second ingredient in courtesy. Nothing has the power to lift a spirit like a true expression of caring. In a cold, microwave world, a moment of real touch and interaction warms the heart.

The mechanics of courtesy are easy. A parrot can be taught to say “thank you.” A sincere moment of gratitude catches and holds the attention of others.

Of course, our care and concern, especially in a professional business environment, will be limited. Still, you can have a moment of human contact. You and the client will not be the same afterwards.

“Fine, thank you”

Last, but not least, generosity is the final ingredient of courtesy. Courtesy is the giving of a gift. Time or concern are precious commodities in the world. Only the truly rich give them away with such abandon.

Assuming the best from an ambiguous phrase is a given kindness. Allowing someone to regain their intellectual footing or dignity is an act of rich kindness. Courtesy heaps value and worth on both sides of the transaction.

Customers and co-workers like to be valued. They will flock to a place where worth is being given away. Are you the place where others can receive such free gifts?

“I’m glad to hear it.”

Courtesy is a business value. A civilized transaction is more easily perceived as honest. Politeness adds to the quality of the transaction for the customer.

Think of your favorite coffee spot. What makes it your favorite? Most likely, the courtesy of the barista adds dramatically to your coffee drinking experience. A charming greeting and warm gestures can easily change the taste of the coffee from “marginal” to “delicious.”

Think about the interactions you have during the day. How many could be improved—significantly if not dramatically—by courtesy and decorum? Are there some marginal relationships you would like to change for the better in this way?

Desertcat has more than twenty years of experience in Supply Chain Management, with an emphasis on strategic partnering between management and subcontractors, with an extensive knowledge and participation in negotiations, pre-planning and execution. You can find his writing on other topics at

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