The rules of courtesy were programmed into my brain from a young age. The power of “please” and the testimony of “thank you” are the gods of courtesy, but like all greatness, there’s more than meets the eye. These words represent the beginning and the end of all things courtesy. Just as in life, the most important parts of courtesy are not the beginning (please) or the end (thank you), but what happens in between.
Growing up playing sports showed me how to work with others in the pursuit of something greater than myself. Working at OCHWW over the last few months has shown me that my coaches prepared me for what most new college grads consider “real life” more than I thought. At an advertising agency, everyone relies on others to accomplish their goals. The creative team might be the players on the ice (I played hockey), and the account team might be the coaches. Without these two teams working in tandem, the work does not get completed. If the creatives are the players and the account teams are the coaches, then the clients are the general managers and owners. All are in the pursuit of one thing, the Stanley Cup of advertising: a great ad and maybe a few accolades to go with it.
Now, how does all this work get done? With the help of courtesy, of course. Here’s an example: I pass the puck to you. You need to get it back to me for us to score. Simple, right?
Here’s another: I email you in the morning. “Can you please let me know where project “Protect the Puck” is on the timeline and when I can expect to receive it? Thank you.”
If I don’t hear back from you in a timely fashion, it might paralyze me. By simply taking a few seconds to respond, it helps me to prioritize my work that day and solve problems, finding a way to work around the situation, or work with you to complete the project. I understand that you are busy. We all are. But as a professional you know that all your colleagues are relying on each other to get things done. By giving your team members a quick heads-up, you help them do their jobs better. You also relieve some tension in your own day because it forces you to prioritize too.
There are other benefits that come from workplace courtesy too. When you are kind to and considerate of your colleagues, that will come back to you. The easier you interact with people, the more likely they will be to help you in a pinch if they can. In turn, this makes your team stronger because you can interact with great candor and camaraderie. A strong team in which everyone is working in tandem is tough to beat.
If you do not carry yourself with great workplace courtesy, may the gods of courtesy smite thee!
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