Being from the South I experience a certain level of civility in day to day interactions. You won't really know what's that's like until some twenty-something with tats and piercings calls you sir. And means it sincerely.
Its as much habit for him as for me.
Long live manners.
Some argue our world is too cool, cutting edge and connected for wasting time on manners, being gracious or social skills. Its ironic that as SoMe rises in influence there's an inverse drop in the actual practice of social skills.
Popular media would have you think a coarsening in interaction is just part of the price of modern life as societal rituals, practices and protocol give way to a more open living. You can be as rude as you want because that's the license creatives get.
Decades of experience with leaders and influencers in very demanding environments has shown the best of them never lose sight of being gracious.
Clearly being gracious or socially conscious for its own sake without a commensurate dose of smarts and work ethic is useless: socially capable losers are still losers.
Yet, its not either/or. Its “both.”
You can be uber-smart, focused and direct and do so with a sense of compassion if not élan.
People are impacted by your presence. They'll be influenced by your outbursts, screaming, foul language, throwing desk accouterments across the office, door slamming, fist-pounding and so on. But probably not in the way you want.
Having worked in Silicon Valley and the ATX I've seen incredibly bright, creative people unconcerned or unaware of social mores in style, dress and behavior. Trend setters don't often check the current status quo. Yet almost all were still considerate to others, even under stress.
In a word, reflection.
Listening to others. Taking a breath. Using a brief respite of silence to reflect on the moment at hand.
Can it really that easy to be more considerate in the workplace?
Yes. It can.
Working in high-stress environments with demanding agendas and long hours is taxing. The temptation to be curt, snide, or snarky awaits. But its a mirage. People will not forgive your rudeness simply due to your brilliance. They will migrate to other teams leaving you to be uber smart all by yourself for there are a lot of smart people out there.
Taking a breath, taking a moment is all you need.
Your brilliance will not pale. Your edge will not dull.
People respond to who you really are. Your clothes, style and words are just window dressing: how you treat others that people really care about.
So shine as brightly as you can.
Your people will join you if you just give them a moment.