Recently I was waiting to be picked up at the airport. If you’ve ever waited in the pick-up area, you’re familiar with the scene. People with luggage on phones, hugging loved ones, looking expectantly at each car and talking to each other about their upcoming plans.
This particular day there were a lot of families with smaller children all around me. Also near me were two 20-somethings who were very loudly speaking about a girl they recently met whose anatomy they really admired.
To say that the f-word and other expletives were used repeatedly is an understatement. Seriously, they hardly used any other words. Again, we were surrounded by children. After several minutes of this, I had to intervene.
Oh no, she didn’t!
I did. I walked over and said politely, “Hi, guys. I know you’re excited about this trip and apparently a young lady you’ve recently met, but I wonder if you could refrain from the incessant swearing in front of all these children? I’m not trying to be a jerk, but you need to look around and be aware of your environment. I’d sure appreciate it.”
To their credit, the young men apologized, and their conversation changed significantly.
My question is … when did this become okay? Were these guys not taught at home to use their “inside voices”? Why was I the one to ask them to stop and not one of the many parents standing around? This is not a question of First Amendment rights. This is just common courtesy … or what used to be practiced as such. When did we stop trying to protect the innocence of children and be polite to strangers in public?
Here comes the tirade …
This lack of thought spills over into a lot of other areas. For instance, not feeling the need to RSVP to events, not showing up to meetings on time, not speaking respectfully to co-workers and supervisors, not taking responsibility for one’s actions (this is a big one), and not being sensitive to one’s environment.
Unfortunately, I could go on, but you get the idea. Have you noticed this? Are you doing this? Do you allow this?
I think somewhere along the way, we as a society have become so consumed with political correctness that we abandoned the practice of holding each other accountable for bad behavior. If someone is swearing loudly in public around a lot of children, someone should say something. If someone is rude to the server at the restaurant, they should be called out. If someone does not respond to an invitation, they should be confronted. If someone behaves badly at work, they should be reprimanded. You see where I’m going with this …
We need to set some standards.
Let’s bring back some good old-fashioned manners, people! When I was growing up, my parents taught me politeness, values and morals. We called it “home training.” Today when I see bad behavior, I assume that person(s) had no “home training.” Sadly, I think a lot of people today did not receive this crucial instruction.
As business owners, supervisors, co-workers, friends, and family of other people, we need to set the example and communicate the values we expect to see. If your employees did not receive good home training, they may need to learn it and see it from you.
True confessions …
I am not always the perfect example of the home training my parents worked tirelessly to instill in me. I fall short, especially with being on time to meetings.
However, I am always striving to do better. I clearly communicate to my team what I expect from them in these skill sets that are not directly listed on their job descriptions. Our team knows how to act when around clients whether down the street or while staying with them across the world. They know how to communicate effectively with each other and me because they all received great home training and they choose to practice it. I’m so grateful for them.
The Forté Way
As a team, we have created what we call "The Forté Way,” which refers to a professional code of conduct that we all adhere to since we are all representing the company, Forté Events. Yes, we have a clear policy and procedures manual, but it’s more than that. It’s mutual respect and, dare I say, love for one another that has grown over the years.
For example, I do not swear. No really, I don’t. Ever. Most of my teammates do. When they are around me, they usually refrain or apologize if they swear. I don’t expect this or require this. Out of respect for me, they adopted this behavior on their own. However, I do expect them not to swear around or to a client. It’s unprofessional and definitely not the Forté Way.
Do you have these practices in place where you work? Do your teammates know how your company wants to be represented in the marketplace? Do you take others’ feelings into consideration when working together?
Home training on the job …
If you’re like me, you may have hired a person throughout your career who was not a fit for your team or organization. Maybe his or her personality just did not jibe with everyone else. Maybe they could not do the job regardless of how many times they were shown. Then again, it could have been that person lacked some home training.
If you find value in an employee but they are rough around the edges, I encourage you to provide them home training on the job. If their family did not teach them skills such as how to speak in public, treat others respectfully, or have a professional look or demeanor, you can help them and be an example to them. Consider communicating, teaching, and demonstrating these standards within your team or company.[ch
It’s not easy but it’s helpful …
Once, I hired a smart, talented young woman who grew up in a different country. She was perfect for the job and wonderful to work with, but her personal hygiene was not up to U.S. standards. I had the unenviable task of talking to her about this after several clients complained. How do you tell someone you like and respect that she has body odor and bad breath without offending or hurting them?
I went to the store and bought her all the necessary supplies and put them together in a nice travel bag like a gift. I met with her in private and explained the issue and how embarrassed I was to have to talk to her about it. I walked through the items in the bag and explained what would help her when she was at work.
To her credit, she understood and thanked me! She made the correction and even asked me periodically if she was meeting the standard. Wow. She had some serious home training. She taught me how to receive a correction with class and professionalism. This is how we make each other better. This is how we raise the bar in the workplace and in our lives.
We have to start somewhere.
I’m starting with myself and my team. I hope you join us in the home training revolution! Maybe we’ll see more manners displayed, more respect shown, more courtesy extended and less foolishness displayed if we all just remember our home training!
If you have questions or want to share a story, please contact us. We’re happy to help!
Tami Forero is a strategic event planner and CEO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based company Forté Events. With 22 years of event planning experience, she helps clients meet goals using experiential events and is a sought-after speaker across the U.S. on the subjects of sales, work-life balance and profitability.
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