“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” states the Golden Rule. In the context of the workplace, this succinctly sums up the philosophy behind professional courtesy, in the wider sense of the phrase; going out of your way to extend a helping hand to a colleague, client, staff, or supplier. Behind the philosophy is the knowledge that you are sailing in the same waters and that ultimately, their success is your success too.
That said, professional courtesy makes for good business sense by way of referrals, availing of credit facilities, extension of timelines and so on. Indeed, it is the underlying theme in getting repeat business, generating new market leads and making your organisation a great place to work in. At the personal level, professional courtesy makes you a better person as you get to connect to a wider network of humanity at a deeper, more personal level as well as expand your knowledge and insights on multi-levels. Ultimately, this boosts your confidence and turns you into a great conversationalist and influencer.
So, how do you express professional courtesy? Besides volunteering your specialised knowledge, the answer lies in showing concern for the other person’s wellbeing and time. Attached to this is the need to make the other person perceive you as a friend and one who is genuinely interested in his case. This involves such practices as active listening and empathy besides affirming the other person.
Daily practices for professional courtesy
Be honest: Being honest is the first step towards professional courtesy. This is so as at times, you may not be in a position to extend the courtesy due to such factors as conflict of interest, prejudice or time constraints. Then, you need to clearly express this to the interested party in a firm but respectful way.
Be genuine: In case you are able to extend professional courtesy, then do it from the bottom of your heart, so to speak, without expecting to be rewarded. Do it with the same enthusiasm you would approach billable work, otherwise you risk being exposed as a fraud.
Be courteous: In the words of Maya Angelou “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A great way to be courteous is to practise active listening in your interactions with other via the SOLER Approach.
- Sit straight- this indicates you are interested in what the other person has to say
- Open posture- indicates your receptiveness towards the subject matter
- Lean forward- indicates your interest
- Eye contact- reassures the other person to open up
- Relax- puts the speaker at ease
Be open-minded: Truth is relative, so goes the adage. Learn to listen without judging as behind the gory or the glory, is the story. Learn to listen to the story. Often times, you may be the only person the other is willing to confide to.
Allocate time: To whom much is given, much is expected, says the scriptures. Allocating time, among other resources, towards assisting others at no cost is not only a great corporate responsibility, it looks good on your portfolio and can generate market leads in future.