Manners - do they define a person and a company? After what seems another long weekend of constantly reminding my children to use their manners and to treat people how they would like to be treated, I have begun to wonder how often these fundamental courtesies in our own workplace environment are lost. Following a long sip of calming post kid’s bedtime red wine, I feel perhaps we should be reminding ourselves, work colleagues and employees about the value and positive impact manners have in the workplace.

By way of example: We pop downstairs every morning to get a coffee and the barista greets you with a happy smile, knows your name, says hello, asks about your day and sends you off with a warm thank you and enjoy your day - this simple courteous communication can instantly lift your mood and change your daily attitude plus it’s great for business - we will likely go back and buy another coffee the next day - great marketing and great business!

We are in a service industry and like the coffee barista, we should be conscious about how our own attitude and manners can affect our business and in turn future business. How is our business perceived and possibly evaluated in the market? As we all know, social media communication is in full swing and workplace communication gets spread far and wide for comment and reflection quickly taking the business reputation with it. Manners seem to have an important contribution in deciding what is appropriate and communicated in this way.

In a way, it is all about respect, respect for ourselves and for others - manners have the unique ability to transcend all sectors and all levels within industries. This is important for our service based business, it has the ability to help further differentiate us in a competitive space and get that consistent repeat business. How often do we see employees strolling into work or meetings late with no communication or apology, phone calls and emails not even acknowledged - while we are all aware of the lack of manners, it seems we are all too busy to do anything other than accept this as the norm? In meetings with clients or colleagues, we all like to share our opinion, to be heard, but some never seem to want to let the other person voice their opinion first or to finish what they are saying jumping in and offering our own - perhaps the ability to listen first and use our manners to respond appropriately to the situation has more effect.

In a world where we now spend an awful lot of time online, a place where there seem to be no boundaries on how people can act and treat each other, it appears we have a greater responsibility to reinforce appropriate behaviour in the real world. Whether we experience the inappropriate use of cell phones, unacceptable work dressing, failure of people to use "please and thank you's, colleagues arriving late, leaving early or acting unprofessionally it is fair to say it will affect how you feel about your day, the workplace and the business. In short, it is now more critical than ever, that we are more conscious of our manners in the workplace. We should aim to set the standard of how we wish to see ourselves and the business perceived by clients, colleagues and employees. Perhaps we should take a lesson from our own parenting skills by implementing policies making ourselves and employees accountable for their behaviour especially as we are at core a service orientated supply business.

Who knows, this may even have the added benefit of improving office productivity over and above creating a more positive working environment!