GOOD MORNING!” I remember when this was the obvious greeting to start the office day. It may have been followed by a casual inquiry as to how the evening before had gone for you, whether everyone was well in the family, and so on.

Today, though, I’ve noticed that this pleasant opener is lost somewhere in a sequencing of such impersonal events as booting up the cubical computer, browsing the e-mail messages waiting from the night before, searching out that all-important cup of coffee or checking voice mail. Perhaps the one person who acknowledges your presence yawns in your face and grabs a Kleenex® or pencil from your desk without asking, or even saying “thanks.” The receptionist or fellow peer breezes past you shouting, “Some guy called 10 minutes ago about an order not being ready. I didn’t get his name but he said he’d call back sometime.” You’re ready to start your day . . . and you feel it’s already half over. Where has a little civility gone?

We have all come to accept this and more as general workplace routine. Most of us would say it hardly fazes us and really isn’t that important. Yet perhaps we’ve also noticed a lack of work enthusiasm and, even more subtly, an ebbing of loyalty to our company, our co-workers, or even our chosen careers. The “in-it-for-the-long-haul” attitude that some would say “made this country great” is missing. I contend that common courtesy and simple manners, gone the way of one-speed bicycles and black-and-white TVs, could do a lot toward redefining the workplace environment as a place of willing and generous productivity.

Those of us who were raised with manners have gotten lazy. In our laziness, we’ve raised a second generation of individuals who are simply and often sincerely ignorant of such values as respect for others, kindness, generosity, and common decency such as holding the door open for the person following you. These are not dated “old fogy” concepts. They take little to no additional time or energy, and their returns are great. Yet those who deal in them stand out like sore thumbs…oddities in our homes, our communities, and most certainly in our workplaces.

Join me next time to learn how rudeness runs the gamut at work.  

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE, trainer and courage coach. She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®. Please visit

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