Friday, July 07, 2006

“Be Polite” (Leeloo – The Fifth Element)

Understanding the “niceties” of daily life in the library.

I was informed by JB who is currently undertaking a course on “Frontline Management” for his company that they were told, being polite is now seen as being false or deceitful, a false sentiment to cover the real feeling for the person we are dealing with. For example the, supposedly, insincere, “Have a nice day” from shop assistants.

I was taught, as a child, to be polite to “everyone, especially your elders”. (As I get older, it is often hard to tell who is an elder, and maybe thats just me, lol, but that is digressing and for another time).

I thought about this, in the context of the many and varied people I come in to contact with each day, both library clients and work colleagues, and came to the conclusion I didn’t agree. Yes I do cover my thoughts with polite chit chat as I move through the day and interact with others, and I find there are a couple of reasons for this;

Respect for the client’s need to work or read and not be distracted, and respect for colleagues in the same manner.

Communicating with the other person to quickly let them know there are no problems that need to be noted on a deeper level and using a smile to ease the way.

A lot of library work is on the surface level, helping a client to find an item, information or service, and then moving on to the next task. I often say “hello” and offer a greeting and smile at a client that may come in to work on the public access machines, they reply in kind, both of us not expecting more and aware of the others need to work. At the same time it gives them an opening to ask me something if they need to.

Leeloo in using the greeting “Be polite” when knocking on another characters door, understood the sentiment, if not the words, and I think most people do this. Some find small greetings such as “Have a nice day” irritating and unnecessary, others use them to communicate and conclude interaction with a client, or to "Be polite”..

All verrry deep, I know, "so have a nice day" that’s all for now, Feraltb.


Kathryn Greenhill said...

I agree that politeness is essential in all dealings with all people everywhere. Particularly in a library. Full stop.

I'm not sure that "have a nice day" is politeness. Emily Post (US etiquette doyen see said in the late 1800's that manners was the "art of making other people feel comfortable".

I've had some lovely, uplifting "have a nice day"s that have made my whole day glow, and some that have made me want to jump the counter and throttle the other person.

I think it's about an attitude of respect and interest. For me, treating the person on the other side of the counter as the only reason why I get paid helps. Hold on, they ARE the only reason I get paid.

TB-) said...

Hi Sirexkat, I agree, making other people comfortable in the library environment, (which to a lot of them when they first enrol, is a new environment)is one of our priorities. Leave them with somewhere to go next.... and smile at them so they feel comfortable enought to come back!