The power of courtesy

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. James Inaldo
  • 39th Medical Group superintendent
The manner in which we interact with each other and show respect for one another is important in every position within an organization, especially when it comes to leaders. Courtesy should be given to everyone regardless of position, rank or age.

Unfortunately there are times when military members lack consideration, act in a rude manner or show disrespect toward others. This behavior usually manifests itself as dismissive behavior towards peers and subordinates, but not to superiors. Consequences of disrespect toward our military superiors are well known. On the other hand, a person who is only courteous to a superior but not to a subordinate is often referred to as a "brown noser." This term carries a negative connotation with peers.

Courtesy can be shown in ways such as good conduct, kindness, politeness, respect for others and decency. There are two simple courtesy "rules" I learned from my parents that I put into practice every day. The two rules I'm talking about are saying "please" and "thank you." They might be plain and considered a common courtesy, but these two phrases can be powerful in an everyday situation. A show of appreciation or saying thank you to your fellow Airman when they do a great job fosters teamwork and can lift morale in the work environment. Sometimes hearing those two phrases can help a person get through a difficult the day. I remember a supervisor who left me a thank you note after a particularly tough week saying that she appreciated my dedication and that I made a difference in accomplishing the mission. It did not cost her anything other than just a little bit of time but those words motivated me to work harder and reinvigorated my commitment to my duties.

Using common courtesies in our daily living can reduce stress in the workplace and can make life in general much easier. Each one of us must respect the opinions of others even if we disagree with them. Individuals also need to be kind and help each other without expecting anything in return. Courtesy should be made a habit and equal respect should be given not only to superiors, but also to peers and subordinates. Never underestimate the power of small words--please and thank you can go a long way.