The death of courtesy

WhileYouWereOutI'm dating myself, but not so long ago (really) and definitely before voicemail, when someone called you at the office, the receptionist would write a message on a pink "While You Were Out" slip. The thickness of the pile was my to-do list, but I assure you that more often than not, by the end of the day it was down to almost "no more pinks". Also years ago, telling someone "I'm busy" was a way of indicating you're doing really well, or that you're "a made man" (sorry, there is no female version of this term): "busy" could've meant anything from redoing the kitchen for the third time in two years, or just being scatterbrained and incapable of completing any task. Ah, those were the days.

So what has changed? For starters, the beloved pinks are gone. Well, maybe you can still buy them but why would you ever use them? We have voicemail, texting, email and stupid comments or reminders on social media.

Here's what I miss the most: common courtesy on a personal level and a barebone level of professionalism when it comes to business and responding to, anything. Yes, I'll take anything, just show me that you care enough and acknowledge my existence.

But that's hard to do isn't it? Holy crap, are we busy or what?

The death of common courtesy.

I get it, most of you are probably saying "what is that?" So, when in doubt, let's ask my friend Miriam:

polite behavior that shows respect for other people

something that you do because it is polite, kind, etc.

something that you say to be polite especially when you meet someone

I don't think I have heard anyone say the word "polite" for over twenty years, so let's head over to the Urban Dictionary (note the digital-blipping):

"to be polite and to respond timely to invitations because you shouldn't be a $^$^$bag and say MAYBE to an invitation because you know people have to f&#&#& cook for a certain amount of people!!!". OK, sorry about that, but it's a bit clearer now isn't it?

While I'm not delusional (expecting everyone to respond to any form of communication from me), I do miss the very basic form of what's making us human: "Yes, thank you" or "No, thank you".

Pick and choose who you want to respond to (courtesy), when or how often, but for God's sake do something.

We have friends that respond to text after five days, or never. We know they received the text because when we go to dinner they're never NOT checking their texts.

What about courtesy in business? What about ignoring my email proposal that I worked on for two weeks? How about the follow up text to the two-hour lunch we had (which I paid for)?

The digital revolution, while fun and engaging, has managed to completely dismiss our existence.

It's time to bring courtesy back.

How long will it take for you to type "No thank you?", or "I'm busy I'll call you back in two hours" or "thanks for lunch".

That's exactly my point: it will take less time for an act of courtesy than the time it took to read the email or text.

One word courtesy, two words or just go big and compose a complete sentence.

When it comes to small business, courtesy is the lifeblood of our future: those big Fortune-type competitors have all the leads they can handle -- oh yes, they are busy. But, guess what? They don't return phone calls or follow up on leads because? You got it, they are busy rushing from one meeting to another, drinking the KoolAid and memorizing the new tagline. Courtesy is not an option, but for us entrepreneurs, courtesy is the only way we differentiate and win.

They say that, "it's the thought that counts" and they are right, but we can't read minds yet. So, what is left is a simple acknowledgement of 'the other person's existence' by letting her know that while you're' terribly busy you do appreciate her time, and thought.

While it's a lot more fun to bring sexy back, courtesy is more meaningful and will last way past the next fad.

Oh yes, thank you for listening, please be courteous to someone today.