Performance Communication , Workplace Communication

What the pool guy taught me about being courteous

15 years ago, when we put a pool in our backyard, I had the unfortunate honor of being the only person home when they “turned over” the pool to us. That means I was the one who was taught how to clean the pool, backwash the filter, empty the skimmer baskets, etc. So for the last 15 years, my job has been to clean the pool, backwash the filter, empty the skimmer baskets, etc.

I’ve gotten to know this pool so well, that I know, just by the sound it makes, when the filter basket is clogged or the pool needs to be backwashed. I know this pool intimately. However, after 15 years of trying to keep it clean, I decided to divorce the pool because our relationship was no longer working for me . . . and I hired a pool guy.

Jim has done a great job taking care of the pool. However, I don’t often see him when he’s here because he comes in the morning when I’m working. However, this morning, our paths crossed as I was heading out the door for an appointment. Jim was poolside, getting ready to begin his work, and I walked out the door and said,

“Hey- I’m glad I caught you- I have a question for you,” to which Jim replied,

“Good Morning, Amy!” 

I was mortified. Here this great guy has been helping me out by relieving me of the burden and frustration of dealing with that big dog water bowl in my backyard, and I couldn’t give him the common courtesy of starting my conversation with a greeting.

I apologized for my rudeness, blaming it on the fact that I’m an “All Business New Yorker,” which somehow most people seem to accept as an excuse for bad behavior (a whole other issue for a whole other blog post.) Jim accepted my apology and we moved on with our conversation.

However, all day the fact that he had to subtly remind me to just be polite has been bugging me. How many times have I done this to others? How many times have they been hurt or frustrated with my all-business approach?

It was a great reminder to me that all communication should start with courtesy – to not only set the tone for the communication, but to show others that you care enough about them to treat them with politeness and respect.

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