Our lives are all about the ratings. We look to Yelp or Travel Advisor or Google when selecting a restaurant, hotel or other venue of entertainment. We look to sites like Angies’ List or Home Advisor or HealthGrades to find the highest rated professionals to help us solve our problems. We decide if we should go to a movie depending on its rating from Rotten Tomatoes. We have, at one point or another, discussed the looks and personality of people we know as a 10 or something less. So what’s behind these rating systems when it comes to deciding whether we want to involve something or someone in our life; or in our decision to recommend a venue, hotel or restaurant? It’s, ultimately, how that business, venue, hotel, restaurant and the people who work there make us feel. The bottom line of why we practice good etiquette is to make others feel good about being with us.
One of the tag lines I have used in describing The Lett Group, my etiquette consultancy, is “Teaching Professionals to Outclass Their Competition”. I used the word “Outclass” to illustrate the rating system we use when describing others. People are described as “Classy”, “low-class”, “upper-class”, “high-class” or maybe “no-class”. The breakdown of what class someone or something fits into is an emotional decision we make when interacting. How do I feel being with that person? How does that venue make me feel? Am I respected, cared for, appreciated, celebrated by being there? Or… do I feel inconvenienced, disrespected, taken for granted or ignored? I venture to guess that you would rather be the former rather than the latter. We all would be. So the question is, “How are your manners?”
Often we refer to someone who has impeccable manners as being “classy”or a “Class Act”. They make others feel important and appreciated. You might think to yourself, “How does the way someone holds their knife and fork have any influence on whether I feel important to them? “How does the way this person dresses have any relevance to whether they appreciate me?” The thing is, it’s all part of the whole “us” that we present to others. We are being rated – judged – from the first moment we meet someone. Everything about us is part of their rating of us. How we look, our posture, our clothes, our body language, our tone of voice, our words, our grammar, our friendliness or lack thereof, our approachability, our inherent kindness, empathy, and knowledge influence whether they will rate us as “classy”, “low-class”, “a 10”, “a 2”, “5 stars” or less. If we turn people off when we eat with them, or insult them when speaking with them our ratings go down. If we follow the rules of etiquette, knowing how to eat without bringing notice or speak with others showing our care and concern for them in the conversation, our ratings stay high. When we dress appropriately for the occasion so that those around us enjoy the view rather and not wishing we would pull up our pants or show less cleavage, our ratings remain high. There are many rules of etiquette to follow to present the best “us” to the world and those with whom we live. The Lett Group would be happy to provide a consultation or class for you or your organization to brush up on the specifics.
If you are working in a business and are lucky enough to meet the public each day, your practice of proper etiquette will make the difference in your business’s ratings. When I was the Director of Great Inns of America in the 1980’s, it was my job to visit country inns and historic hotels around the country and determine their ratings. Nothing less than 5 Diamonds (AAA) and 5 Stars (Mobil) would allow the inn to be invited to join Great Inns of America. The determining factors for the ratings weren’t just the physical items – cleanliness, proper furniture, tended garden, curb appeal, no chipped paint, quiet, electronics that worked, safety and how good was the food served. Those were important and if they were excellent, the rating level was an 8 or 4 Stars/Diamonds. But it was whether the staff made the guest feel cared for, important and appreciated that added the last Star/Diamond to their rating thus allowing for an invitation to join the group. It was how the innkeepers used good manners, kindness and care that made the difference.
As we go through our days, it is prudent that we always keep in mind that how we make a difference in other’s lives.How we rate in the eyes of our customers, friends and family, has to do with how we touch their emotions, not just their intellect. If we make them feel like they are the most special person in the room, our ratings will be 10 out of 10 or 5 Stars/ 5 Diamonds. It is the proper etiquette we know and practice that make it easy for us to achieve the highest ratings in everything we do.