We may not always notice politeness but we usually notice rudeness or inconsiderate behavior.
It is easy to recognize when people are rude or inconsiderate but often more difficult to recognize these traits in yourself. Think carefully about the impressions you leave on others and how you can easily avoid being considered ill-mannered or ignorant.
There is considerable overlap between the two, but “courteous” concentrates on good manners; “polite” shows regard for others.
Polite: showing regard for others in manners, speech, behavior, etc.; marked by refinement in taste and manners; civil; cultivated; genteel
Gracious: characterized by charm, good taste, and generosity of spirit; characterized by kindness and warm courtesy; exhibiting courtesy and politeness; courteous
Characterized by courtesy and gracious good manners; nice. Etiquette ( or , French: [e.ti.kɛt]) is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. The French word étiquette, literally signifying a tag or label, was used in a modern sense in English around 1750. Etiquette has changed and evolved over the years.
Say hello to people – greet people appropriately, gain eye contact and smile naturally, shake hands or hug where appropriate but say hello, especially to colleagues and other people you see every day. Be approachable. Do not blank people just because you’re having a bad day.
Take time to make some small talk – perhaps mention the weather or ask about the other person’s family or talk about something that is in the news.
Try to remember things about the other person and comment appropriately.
Always use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Make sure you thank people for their input or contribution and always include ‘please’ when asking for something.
Praise and/or congratulate others on their achievements. Praise needs to be seen as genuine – this can be difficult if you feel jealous or angry.
At work be polite and helpful to your subordinates as well as your bosses. Respect and acknowledge the positions, roles and duties of others.
Use appropriate language – be respectful of gender, race, religion, political viewpoints and other potentially controversial or difficult subjects. Do not make derogatory or potentially inflammatory comments.
Learn to listen attentively – pay attention to others while they speak – do not get distracted mid-conversation and do not interrupt. (See our pages on Listening Skills for more.)
Respect other people’s time. Try to be precise and to-the-point in explanations without appearing to be rushed.
Good manners cost nothing but can make a big difference to how other people feel about you, or the organization you are representing. When you’re polite and show good manners others are more likely to be polite and courteous in return.