7 June 2017

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Courtesy costs nothing — and it can win you friends, influence people and create business clients that last a lifetime.

My father was a market gardener, a coal miner, a timber cutter, a fitter and turner and a motor mechanic. He volunteered for WWII and was rejected on the basis that he was working in the coal mines at the time and the country needed miners. He was buried in a coal mine for three days — up to his waste and for the rest of his life suffered with a variety of ailments in his legs. He worked most days of his life until he passed away when he was still a young 74 years of age.

He was also a business man yet he could barely read and could not write with the exception of scratching out his name — K J Marchant.

His mother was a school teacher from England and his father a veteran of the Boer war, the First World War and an instructor (Sergeant Major) in the Second World War.

He ran several very successful businesses over the years, mostly involving trucks of some sorts and coal, sand and timber– and for the most part it was all done on a ‘handshake,’ a love of people and unwavering trust in his fellow man.

How things have changed?

However this is what I learned from him:

COURTESY COST NOTHING and it can win you a lot of good friends and customers.

Yet, it seems to be missing these days.

Have you ever sent an email and never even had it acknowledged?

Have you sent an SMS — not to have it acknowledged?

Have you called someone on the phone, left a message, and they never bothered to ring back?

Seriously, how long does it take to acknowledge someone — someone who has gone out of their way (no matter what the reason) to contact you — in other words you are important to them and you are too busy or couldn’t be bothered to at least say ‘hey, I got your message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can or I’ll be back to you on a specific time/date’

I think when we don’t acknowledge people we are being ‘downright rude’ and showing no courtesy at all. This tells me something about you — you and your time are more important than me and my time…or at least you think so…a major human relations mistake.


Courtesy in a message / or a reply to a message implies that the message is showing / has shown respect for the receiver.

The sender of the message should be sincerely polite, judicious, reflective and enthusiastic.

Effective, courteous, Business Communication which can lead to the ‘holy grail’ of any business transaction -TRUST has the following seven qualities:

1. Correctness

2. Clarity

3. Conciseness

4. Completeness

5. Consideration

6. Concreteness and


Courtesy is the most significant attribute among them.

Because, without courtesy a business communication will be totally pointless, purposeless and unachievable.

In business, almost everything starts and ends in courtesy.

Courtesy builds goodwill.

Courtesy strengthen relations.

Courtesy in letter /email writing is like the ‘cure all medicine’, which cures the friction generated by wrong selection of words.

A courteous business letter/email conveys to your recipient that you are not only sensitive to their concerns but believe in the value of taking the time to acknowledge those concerns in writing.

Courtesy in business letters/emails is a combination of paraphrasing your understanding of the problem prior to addressing its solution as well as explaining policies, procedures and practices in a clear, concise way.

Even if a customer expects nothing in return from you, the simple courtesy of expressing your gratitude in writing for just supporting your efforts with their patronage not only encourages ongoing loyalty but creates a chain reaction of paying kindness forward to others — leading to trust.

How to maintain courtesy in business communication:

Starting with the TELEPHONE.

Make sure that when we cannot answer our phone that our recorded message is sincere and polite. Often it is in the tone of the voice that can display courtesy. Apologizing for not being available when our caller needed to speak to us is a show of courtesy. Stating when we will be back is another courtesy. Most important, returning a message promptly is not only courteous but professional.

Secondly, when EMAILS are the channel for the business communication. Use complete sentences and good grammar. Never write an email when angry or in the mood to vent, as chances are an email sent under these conditions will be missing the courtesies that could make our communication more effective.

Thirdly, Often the most difficult form of business communication is delivered FACE-TO-FACE.

…it’s simple. Treat people the way you like to be treated. Treat them with respect, kindness and courtesy.

What is it with these people who think they have to be tough, blunt and aggressive to be effective? That’s not the way…and eventually it will catch up to them. It’s called Karma.

Finally, courtesy involves empathy, awareness of the needs of others, and willingness to compromise, evaluating differing opinions and adapting to the needs of various audiences, including those from the other cultures.

Professional courtesy in business communication involves replying to all business-related messages, whether emails, letters or telephone messages in a timely manner and setting up systems for ensuring that messages do not ‘slip through the net’.

Professional courtesy in business communication also means keeping our word and doing what we say we are going to do…and building trust.

Good Luck and (always) Good Selling.

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