Friday night pizza and a movie at home is an end of week family ritual I look forward too, though most of the time I end up falling asleep on the couch. The other family ritual we have is going out for brunch most Sundays. I was shocked and surprised when last Sunday I was pulled up by my 14 year old for always ‘playing on my phone’ while conversing and eating at the same time. I must admit I am guilty as charged as I do live on my text messages. I did try to bluster my way saying ‘It’s important’, but really who was I kidding?
But it got me thinking, about how in a flat, fast and interconnected world, we are always chasing the next piece of sexy communication technology, but irrespective of what that may be, what matters is always getting your basics right. Coincidentally that very night I was reading Josh Kaufman’s book* where he describes the ‘Golden Trifecta’. Courtesy, appreciation and respect.
Courtesy almost sounds old fashioned, but even in our modern world while it might not be about tipping our hats and bowing, small gestures like holding an elevator open for someone, or responding to emails even just to acknowledge receipt does oil the wheels of our society. As an interesting experiment with friends over dinner I asked how many incidents of road rage people could recall versus how many incidents of courtesy (not related necessarily to cars!). Unsurprisingly people had tons of examples of road rage and hardly any for courtesy. Courtesy seems also trapped in the cross hairs of gender politics and the ticking time bomb of the politically correct times we live in. Holding a door open for someone of the opposite sex, might be viewed as sexist, offering your seat on the tram to an elderly person might be ageist, what if they are not as old as they look GULP. Or are these excuses just a way of letting ourselves off the hook? While there are no easy answers for situations like holding doors open, courtesy is simply treating other people how you would like to be treated.
Research after research on employee engagement tells us that what people crave most is some appreciation. The boss even saying ‘Great job’ can have a huge impact on our well being and our motivation. One of the best moments of our business lives was receiving a hand written thank you note from a client. It went straight up on our notice board and still lives there.
And finally respect, Kaufman describes this as honouring a person’s status. A recruiter I knew would observe how potential candidates interacted with the receptionist in her practice, and was surprised how often potential candidates were rude to the receptionist, but nice as pie to her, the recruiter.
Kaufman cautions us that it is important to apply the ‘golden trifecta’ to all our interactions not just the important ones, and cites the example of someone who is lovely over dinner but nasty to the wait staff.
I have introduced this to my family by its acronym CAR and now we often tease and pull up each other, and say the ‘R was missing in the CAR’. Our challenge as communicators is to make sure hopefully nothing is missing in our CAR.
*Josh Kaufman is the author of the #1 international bestseller The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business
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