Not long ago, having dinner with colleagues (some planners and some suppliers) the conversation turned to rudeness in the industry. It made me feel as if some of us had our priorities skewed and were so busy working we had forgotten about common courtesy.
We hear a lot today about how our time is consumed on BlackBerrys and iPhones, taking calls during meetings, texting at the dinner table. I have come to think we have last all sense of our manners.
I recently spent some time in the South (Georgia, Florida and South Carolina) and noticed how people there still talk to one another. I don't mean by online chat. I mean face-to-face. When the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly (yes, Piggly Wiggly is real!) asks how your day is, she really is asking.
And if a conversation begins and you end up talking about the latest cast-off of American Idol or the influx of mosquitoes because of the warm weather, that's expected. No one in line behind you begins to stamp their feet or sigh heavily.
When I get no reply from my peers to my voice mails and emails or when I'm stood up for an appointment (which happens too frequently!), I used to think to myself, "No biggie. They're busy and it must have slipped their mind."
But after slowing down for just a short time I now realize it was nothing but simple rudeness. If I can take time to make those phone calls or meet with a colleague, then they can return that favor in kind. At the very least, they can acknowledge my effort or let me know if they need to cancel or reschedule.
People in the South use email and Facebook and all that techie stuff, but they also talk on the phone and have conversations in person. That personal contact counts for something. While chatting with a receptionist we found a topic to bond over and now she always makes sure my calls get answered.
This is a relationship industry. Without strong connections, service suffers and so does our work. I'm not saying toss technology out the window. Just remember we are not robots (at least not yet) and slowing down to revive or renew a relationship will make the roses smell better.