It’s not just about sipping tea.
Good manners can set you apart.
I was delighted to hear a radio commentator report that The National League of Junior Cotillions selected Jimmy Fallon to top its “Best-Mannered List for 2014.”
According to the League’s website, Fallon was selected as number one “for maintaining the dignity and respect of others through his comedic disposition as host of ‘The Tonight Show.'”
I couldn’t agree more. Part of what makes Fallon so charming is that he invariably seems delighted to be with his guests and determined to help them look good. Much of our enjoyment comes from his intense interest in their success and his whole body laughter at their jokes.
Even if you don’t think he’s funny, how can you help liking Jimmy Fallon? Perhaps social manners like his are so appealing because they are a low-key application of the Golden Rule. The way he interacts with other people seems to say: I’ll be nice to you and I have confidence that you’ll be nice to me.
The ideals of polite behavior may not be discussed in your workplace. But you’ll get the picture if someone describes a colleague as “a real gentleman,” or “a true lady.” We like and enjoy being around polite people because they tend to notice us and are so aware of our needs.
For a personal brand that sets you apart from the crowd, learn from Fallon. Develop a reputation for treating everyone with respect. Of course what counts most are the big things, like pitching in to support your colleagues in a crisis. But you can enhance your brand by consistently exhibiting good manners in even small ways:
- Say “hello.” When we are around other people, it’s decent to acknowledge their presence. Your rude coworkers may act like others are invisible. But with a simple “good morning” you can forge a sense of connection and goodwill.
- Speak with basic courtesy. Your habits of speech say a lot about you:
- Be quick to say “please” and “thank you,” to everyone.
- Say “excuse me” if you bump into or must interrupt someone.
- Avoid profanity and crude language.
- Praise or congratulate folks on their achievements, even if it requires you to bite back a twinge of envy.
- Be considerate of others’ time. When people are busy it’s unkind to waste their minutes and hours:
- Be punctual for meetings and appointments.
- Respond quickly to invitations (to save time spent on follow-up).
- Don’t waste time with rants or lengthy accounts of small matters.
- Don’t play with your phone during a meeting or conversation.
- Treat colleagues with class: The way you talk about others can shape your reputation:
- Don’t gossip with coworkers about coworkers.
- Don’t bad-mouth your boss, your team or your organization.
- Share credit, paying special attention to junior team members whose work might otherwise go unnoticed.
- Debate with civility. Disagreement is part of the creative process and responsible professionals aren’t afraid to speak up. But that’s no excuse for being mean:
- Express criticism in terms of the work or the concept, and avoid making it about the person.
- When possible, frame your comments in a positive way.
- Avoid sarcasm because it’s seldom amusing and can lead to misunderstandings.
- Let the other speak, genuinely listen to their views and imagine what it’s like from their perspective.
People with the Jimmy Fallon touch support cultures where everyone can perform well, enjoy work and collaborate with one another. And other people like being around them.