I'll have courtesy with my gelato, thanks.

 Oct 19, 2016

Beautiful Sunday morning in Sydney and I just got myself a coffee at the café down the end of my street. Just before I was about to order a well-dressed lady in her early forties stuck her head through the door, from the alfresco seating area and said, “I’ll have an orange juice with that order too.” No please, no thanks.

I ordered, and then went out to read the newspaper in the area, where she was seated with her 7ish-year-old daughter. I don’t know whether she had been waiting a while, for whatever else she had ordered, before I came but when the waiter brought the orange juice to the table, in what I thought was pretty swift time, again there was no thank you or even acknowledgement.

In our Excellence in Service course we talk about the importance of courtesy as a mark of respect that helps foster good customer relationships. Of course, some may think that if they are the ones being served and paying for the privilege then there is no need to show courtesy to those who are serving.

That prompts me to think of the period in my early twenties, when my arrogance overflowed. I commented to a girl I was going out with at the time, that I always seemed to attract dud waiters/waitresses. She, being four years my junior but a very smart person, informed me that I came across very patronisingly in the way I treated those serving me – even though I still said my pleases and thank yous – and that I might want to consider my part in the transaction.

I made a change and found that the service I got also changed – for the better.

Everyone is deserving of respect and respect usually begets respect. It is more likely to come back to you if you give it. This is not to say that if you are serving customers and that is your job, that you do not offer respect despite the customer not offering it. In Australia we have a very egalitarian society and often people in service situations do need to be trained to get comfortable taking a one down position and serving people. It’s your job!

For everyone else, courtesy goes a long way to creating mutually respectful relationships, in all areas of life. It is especially important if someone is serving you food. Otherwise, you can end up with something unwanted in your complimentary gelato!

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters' degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor's degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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