This past week I read about a study showing that the lack of manners in the workplace today has resulted in less productivity for businesses. Ah hah! It wasn't just my experience, others were noticing it, too, and it was affecting their businesses as well.
We writers often don't think about being a business, but we are. How we are treated and how we treat others is important. Or so my parents taught me all those years ago. I've always tried to build positive relationships with editors and colleagues. Simple manners are basic to my life. By and large, I've found that others have also been courteous. That was then. This is now.
Back in the day, I would type query letters and include the requisite SASE (Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope for those of you who were weaned on computers). I would, within a reasonable amount of time, receive a response. Often relationships would build and we would conduct business on the phone.
With the advent of computers and e-mail, life was supposed to be simpler. Editors were busy before computers and editors are busy now. But I've noticed that many editors display a singular lack of manners. While queries are now done via e-mail and e-mail is so much faster than what is now called "snail mail," something has happened to the new breed of editors. Not all. But some. More and more as time goes on. They wait weeks or months to respond. And when their is a positive response, they may request something further, like pictures, before making a firm assignment. Pictures obtained and e-mailed, the response comes back that the editor has to check with someone else about resolution. Now, having invested time and energy in this "assignment" that hasn't been firmed-up yet, the writer waits and waits. And waits. How long does it take to find out if the art department approves of the resolution? Good question. The jury is still out on that one.
Apparently, the writer's time and energy mean nothing. Not even the courtesy of an short e-mail saying that there is no answer just yet. We are now dispensible to the point where we aren't even accorded simple courtesy. Today's editor can't be any busier than yesterday's editor. It's courtesy that's missing.
We've had at least one generation raised without manners. Hold a door for someone? No. Stand when an older person enters a room? Are you kidding? Shake hands when introduced? Not likely. Address someone as Miss., Mrs., Mr., Ma'am, or Sir? No, they go directly to first names. That's fine for contemporaries but children should be taught to show respect for their elders. If they learned some manners when they were young, they wouldn't be discourteous as adults. Manners are taught. I remember, years ago, someone telling me that her father was upset that she took something of his without asking. She laughed. So did I but not in agreement with her as she may have thought. I'd met her mother who had absolutely no manners so how could she impart them to her child?
Manners can, however, be acquired. It would behoove today's workers, whatever the workplace, to show some manners, simple courtesy to other people. It helps build relationships. It's hard to have a good feeling about working with someone who can't respond in a timely manner. That, too, is part of their job. Do they think they're superior? We're all just trying to do our best and get through each day. Why not try to make easier and more pleasant for each other and build good working relationships? At the very least, that study showed that lack of manners is unproductive. Frankly, I think it's also uncivilized.
End of rant.
Causes Darlene Arden Supports
The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies at the AKC Canine Health Foundation