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Mind your P’s & Q’s – Why Please and Thank You are the most important words you’ll use with your customers and vendors.

Author: Robin

Have you ever walked into a store and no one acknowledges you at all – not even with a smile? Or maybe you were walking into a coffee shop and you held the door for the next person and they didn’t say “thank you”. Making a good impression and projecting yourself as mature, intelligent, confident, professional and nice is critical to long-term success in business and in life. People want to work with people they like, plain and simple.

When I was working at Dogeared, we exhibited at nine trade shows per year. Reaching our sales goals was a top priority for me (and my team), but what was even more important was being nice. We were, actually, known for being nice. We had such great relationships with the other exhibitors that it wasn’t unusual for a fellow exhibitor send one of their buyers over to see us so we could show them our line. I would absolutely do the same.

My grandma use to say, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!” Being a great communicator in both written and oral communication, is essential… yes, ESSENTIAL as a business owner. Now, I know there are those times when let’s say a castor promised you the finished castings you ordered by a certain date, but for one reason or another, he is late delivering them to you. How you react to difficult and disappointing situations will make or break your relationship with this vendor and possible other vendors – it is a proven fact that if a person/vendor/customer has a bad service experience they will tell at least 10 -20 people. Now, with the Internet that number can and will only get bigger.

It IS possible to be courteous while being direct and getting your point across. Cussing someone out, whether spoken or written, can negatively affect your credibility and put off or even offend those you work with forever. Take the time and make the effort to use appropriate language and the “nice” approach in all forms of communication.
IMPORTANT: Don’t let the “niceness” be taken over by wordiness.

People are not only are more responsive to polite good manners, but you will find that they will go that extra mile for you. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, 52% of those interviewed said they “lost work time worrying about incidents of rudeness.” Imagine the increase in productivity and work enjoyment if everyone was a little more courteous.


Oral Communication

When talking with customers or vendors always include a “please” and a “thank you.” My golden rule is to treat others how I like to be treated. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, you can be direct and courteous – try it!


Email is used for fast and efficient business communications. Using a greeting like “hello” or “hi” and the recipient's name is one way to infuse courtesy. Always use proper English – nothing drives me crazier than receiving an email that is all abbreviations or slang. Avoid emoticons like : ), and chat jargon unless you know the person well. Using all caps comes across as yelling and using all lower case comes across as not being professional. Ensure all correspondence is complete and courteous and thorough. When there is a very important issue, NEVER email. Pick up the phone and call the person. You can send an email letting the person know you would like to speak with them and once you have had the chance to talk, follow up with an email confirming what was talked about and thanking them for their time.

Other Written Communication

Your business has a distinct and unique style, stay true to that when creating memorandums and newsletters. DO make certain that you spell names correctly. Names are an important part of people’s identity, so investing the time to get it right translates into respect and courtesy. DO make sure you check spelling on all written communication. Take it from me, I am a terrible speller and I thank my lucky stars every day for spell check. A misspelled word every now and again will not ruin a relationship, but too comes across as unprofessional.

It Pays To Be Nice All The Time

Saying “good morning” or “goodbye” or a quick “Have a nice day” takes virtually no time and very little effort. So, for a small investment on your part, you can increase the camaraderie at work and reduce stress for everyone.

I have always made it a practice to be nice to everyone I work with – be it a CEO of a company or an intern or the janitor of the building. To quote Russell Simmons, business mogul, activist and best-selling author, “If you are a good giver, you will be great getter.” And there is more than enough love and business for everyone.

Remember your customers have choices as to where to spend their money and time. Creating courteous and respectful communication increases your chances of retaining current customers as well as gaining new ones.

Action Steps:

1. Think before you react. The next time you are contacting a vendor or a customer do it with kindness and a smile (even if they can’t see you). Happiness is contagious.
2. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call. Speaking with someone if still the best (2nd to meeting in person) way to communicate and create relationships with your customers and vendors.
3. Get to know your customers and vendors. Some of the buyers I worked with when I was at Dogeared are some of my dearest friends now. An added bonus for sure!

We want to hear from you:

How are you being nice in your business? What are some positive things that have happened in your business because you were polite and professional?

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Why Please & Thank You are so important in your business. Find out via @Flourish_Thrive http://bit.ly/MBivn2

Exciting news! Our first program is launching (at a discount) for a limited time only on July 24th. Make sure you are on our email list to receive your notification for early admission.


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  5. JEAN on August 24, 2012 at 4:43 am

    “Please” and “thank you” are the most important words that I try to use as much as I can to my partners and customers. These “magic words” are definitely music to the ears!

  6. Dianne Logarta on August 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    This is really true! Just being polite and adding a bit of a genuine smile can actually make people feel a bit happier. Sometimes, it might even make other people’s day or turn a bad day to a no-so-bad-after-all one. Thanks Robin!

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