Below is a blog by Candace Ellis, who loves surprising and delighting clients and sharing her sense of fun and wit through her writing. I truly love her pieces and felt compelled to share this one with you. Follow her on twitter @candellis.
When Clarence Thomas said “good manners will open doors that the best education can not.”, I wonder if he meant that literally?
As a an associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States he may have been referring to people he met in his courts when he said this. But the way I look at it is this: good manners will get you places and will open doors.
I know this to be true because in my as a receptionist and executive assistant for one of the leading companies in Australia in research I constantly greet and welcome people from all walks of life. Everyday we all meet people including sales reps, service engineers, patients couriers and even lost colleagues. While every visitor has different reasons for being there, one thing they all have in common is they must get past the gatekeeper – yep that’s me, the receptionist.
Some might say I am the bump in their road, the roadblock in their mission and some visitors want to bypass. As the gatekeeper, I am not trying to make your life more difficult or waste your time or distract you from your journey. My mission ( and yours – should you choose to accept it) is to move you from reception to the right person at the right time. Let me help you, help me, here’s how:
- Know whom you came for. It saves us time- know the full name and job title. In large organizations it’s challenging to know everyone’s name. Guess what, sometimes there are more than one “Sheila” or “Bruce” please know their last name. This also indicates you are prepared and organized.
- Know your reason for visiting. You may be a frequent visitor and tell me why you are back. I need to keep tabs on the visitors – let’s build a rapport. Heck I don’t mind a little small talk! Yes I did watch Game of Thrones last night, wasn’t it brutal?
- Know your focus. Eyes on the game and not on your phone. Give attention during your interaction- simple and effective. Talking on your phone while being helped is sinful and demonstrates a lack of respect. If you need to take the call, excuse yourself and return when you can give your full attention.
- Know the power of a smile, eye contact, and friendliness. Sometimes you may not get this in return (unless you visit me of course). Some receptionists are distracted, under the pump and having a bad day – try not to take it personally. Everyone might be entitled to a bad day, however when you work in a service industry you waive that right. Receptionists are people too and sometimes bad days sneak up on you. Isn’t interesting when you surround yourself with positive people, it rubs off on you? It is contagious and I love being around positive people. You could be the turning point in someone’s bad day so flash ‘em your pearly whites, what have you got to lose?
- Know the Rules. This one is easy. Sign in, sign out and wear your nametag. Follow instructions, and use the visitor car parks designated to you. It’s simple people. Please pay attention.
Recently we had very important guests visiting our workplace. My job was to ensure these guests we were well looked after and shown the highest hospitality. At the end of the visit I commenced clean up, washing coffee cups in the too small, too hot kitchen behind the meeting rooms. I was coming down with cold and feeling ill. Soldiering on I was standing over the sink in my tired, pre-cold haziness and heard a voice and a tap at the door. As I turned I saw one our guest VIPs, smiling. He took the time to find me, extend his gratitude and smile. He looked me in the eye, asked my name and thanked me. Out of all the guests that day, he is the one I remember and one who I will gladly welcome back.
Good manners does open doors, and I will be happily waiting at that door for you.