Ah modern technology. You either love it or you loathe it. Personally, if I didn’t feel the need to carry around a cell phone with me, I wouldn’t. I like quiet. I like peace. What I dislike is feeling compelled to react to beeps, rings and dings every other few minutes.
This past weekend I walked into a grocery store and began chatting with the cashier, a young lady who seemed surprised that I was actually looking her in the eye and engaging her in conversation. She welcomed it.
I asked her what her biggest pet peeve is during her daily routine as a cashier. She replied almost immediately, “People on their cell phones when I am ringing up their purchases. I’m not a robot. I am a living, breathing human being and people just don’t get how rude it is not to be acknowledged for the service I provide to them.”
We talked for a while and it brought me back to how critical etiquette is today and how far removed so many of us have become. After our exchange I thanked her for her help. She smiled, looked at me and said, “Hey thanks for listening. You rock.”
Well thank you mademoiselle. You rock too!
The entire exchange also teleported me to my expatriate stint in Paris, France. When I first moved to Paris I didn’t speak French nor did I understand any of the cultural differences. A major difference between us anglophiles and our French friends is that upon entering any service establishment whether it be a clothing store, wine or cheese shop, the attendant stops what they are doing, remarks the person walking into their establishment and greets them with a polite “bonjour or bonsoir.” A “bonjour or bonsoir” is typically expected in return. It is just part of French etiquette. It is considered very rude if you don’t exchange niceties upon entering or departing – at which time a “merci au revoir” is expected.
So just who are you being out in the world? Running as fast as you can? Texting and driving? Juggling a smart phone, ipad and computer to supposedly get “connected” to people? Are you being rude?
Here are a few simple etiquette reminders for this brave new world we are all living in:
- Put your electronics away when lunching or dining with others. Be mindful of those who are with you. Be with them.
- Make a human connection by looking others in the eye while conversing or engaging in an exchange. People will trust you more.
- Smile. A smile is universal no matter where you are in the world. It makes you approachable and you may just brighten someone else’s day.
- When in daily meetings, put the mobile phones away and shut down laptops unless you are the scribe.
- Slow down. Notice things and notice other people in the world. You don’t need to move at warp speed.
“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” ~John de Paola
Get back to the basics and bring back these simple “niceties” to your personal and professional life. They are always welcome out in the world and will get you noticed at the office as someone who is trustworthy, approachable and has good etiquette.