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Courtesy - A study on the behavior - Courtesy

Courtesy - A study on the behavior - Courtesy

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Published by Tathagat Chatterjee
As part of the Organisational Behavior Course,
A study on courtesy - its need and how it is perceived in today's India
As part of the Organisational Behavior Course,
A study on courtesy - its need and how it is perceived in today's India

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Published by: Tathagat Chatterjee on Sep 11, 2013
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being kind helps in being polite to others as then we would be performing many of the tasks considered under politeness automatically rather than as part of a rule. Every parent teaches his / her children to take care while handling different inanimate and animate objects like – books. It is embodied by a person having good manners. the communication between strangers is impossible and remains strained if the person is a stranger. we have been able to generalise on the basis of certain characteristics shown by the people belonging to different culture. We cannot simply look at the manners of a person and take a decision about his/her nature. At the same time. the willingness to help and many more. However. politeness. As such. However. c) Handling & Care – This is the part of basic manners which are taught to children since their childhood. d) Willingness to Help – This refers to the general manner in which people behave when they are faced with the need to help someone in trouble.Introduction Courtesy refers to showing politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others. b) Polite Nature – Politeness is often confused with kindness. Different facets of courtesy are understood in different ways in different cultures. it is considered to be discourteous (often called by mothers as simply to be having bad manners). it is often the other way round. it has been incorporated as one of the criterion. It may be shown by the humble folding of hands by the Indians. It comes from the old French word 'courteis' (12th century) and refers to gentle politeness and courtly manners. Over the years courtesy has come to be a part of not just the court but also the defining element of the culture of a nation as a whole. plants etc. auditory (how a person speaks) and whether the person has basic courtesy or not. It essentially determines the point where the communication begins. clothes. the basic courtesies expected of a person belonging to a civilised culture (or nation) remain the same. the importance of courtesy can be clearly underlined in the following thought by Bryant McGill – “A polite enemy is just as difficult to discredit. In fact. We have to take into consideration the cultural background that the person comes from as they determine how a person would behave in different situations. as a rude friend is to protect” Conceptual Framework Suppose one meets a stranger. Thus. . The parameters used are – a) Nature of greeting – It is defined by the manner in which we greet strangers and acquaintances alike. it remains an important part of the communication between two people. It has come to encompass virtues like kindness. cruel manner. In the Middle Ages in Europe. But. toys. a graceful bow by the Japanese or a curt “Hello” by the British. One of the most influential of these was “Il Cortegiano” (The Courtier) which not only covered basic etiquette and decorum but also provided models of sophisticated conversation and intellectual skill. it is considered to be the hallmark of a civilised culture. if someone behaves in a rude. It is often believed that to be polite is to be kind towards others. without putting too much thought into how it would affect them. a hug by the Americans. In today’s world. Without a greeting. the first things to be noticed are – visual (how a person dresses up). uncouth. the behaviour expected of the gentry was compiled in courtesy books.

Based on the above parameters. . Also argued was the fact that for the 2nd factor.bloggedphilippines.http://business-review.com/advice/parenting/good-manners/ This is a 2006 test (repeated in 2012) which measured the politeness on 3 factors. Reporters walked into public buildings behind people to see if they would hold the door open for them. 2. It was labelled as the biggest ‘Common Courtesy Test’ ever conducted. The best performed was Manila at 22nd out of 35 cities. Asian cities (with Mumbai performing the worst) were labelled as the rudest cities in the world. However. (Referenced links – [1] http://www. In each location. There has been a lot of hue and cry over this report [1][2][3] because of two reasons – 1.com/2012/07/readers-digest-study-manila-no22-of-36.my/News/Nation/2012/07/24/Kuala-Lumpur-ranked-way-down-inReaders-Digest-latest-appraisal. The literacy rates are also related (as it increases the probability that the person is educated too). The survey gave out the following reasoning – 1. even after all the points are taken into consideration. The more we trust others.rd. 2. we will try to define what constitutes as courtesy and might help people to judge themselves on the basis of how they behave publicly.html [3] . public display of emotions etc. They conducted it in 1 major city of 35 nations and tried to find out – “how polite the citizens of that city are”. communication with a stranger. the magazine carried out the following three tests: 1.aspx [2] . New York was labelled the politest city in the world. Some of them include ‘Table Manners’. do not apply to the Asian nations. where the employees are trained to be courteous. dressing codes. 3. We are not including a lot social etiquettes here as they differ from culture to culture. we would discuss them separately. There is positive co-relation between economic status and politeness. it would never explain the low scores of most Asian nations.thestar. the more is the probability that we will help others. A folder full of papers was dropped in busy locations to see if anyone would help pick them up. The reporters bought small items from stores and recorded whether the sales assistants said "thank you.com. 2. One of the few popular surveys on courtesy was published by Reader’s Digest – http://www. Review of Literature – 1.eu/featured/bucharest-citizens-some-of-the-rudest-people-in-the-worldsays-readers-digest-survey/) It was argued that many of the factors which are considered for politeness in the West. But.http://www. the sales items were all bought from different Starbucks stores." 3.

c) People from weak educational backgrounds mentioned having a feeling of shyness / mistrust in helping others 2. As part of this the participants were asked questions on mainly two broad divisions – 1.stanford. Invasion of Technology – Many people don’t realise how pervasive technology has become in our lives and how they affect our behaviour while we are in public. when it came to a colleague or family member.bbcprisonstudy. they were asked questions mainly pertaining to politeness and general behaviour that one must maintain in public. Empirical Study and Generalization Regarding courtesy. The Stanford Prison Experiment – http://alumni. This does not seem to be considered a necessary etiquette by most Asians. a study on what is considered as appropriate was conducted. However. especially Mumbai . in spite of having bad experiences – a) Many responders from the metro said they would help as long as any material exchange was not involved (as they have a fear of getting conned) b) People belonging to smaller cities were more open to helping others. 3. How they perceive others courtesy? – In this section. The survey tries to get a basic understanding on what people consider to be offensive related to the use of mobiles / iPods etc.org/) which helped form the theory on behaviour of humans in the absence of supervision / monitoring. Educated people are more willing to help out strangers who visit their city / locality.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=40741 This experiment and its complementary experiment by BBC regarding prisoners and wardens (http://www. Very few were ever greeted by complete strangers (with a good-afternoon / good-day or even a smile). the answers were very much different. however. Most people from eastern and southern parts of India responded that they take care before closing a door while entering the office or some restaurant.2. The details of the survey and articles researched on the internet are used to comment on what could be the reasons for a section of the society behaving more courteously than another. People from the western regions. 2. Chennai. Dehradun were contacted). The findings of the survey showed up some of the following points – 1. The users were requested to answer as truthfully as possible as this was an anonymous survey. Findings of the study and Generalization The survey had all Indian participants. How courteous they think they are to others? – Under this. from diverse backgrounds and belonging to different parts of the country (people from Kolkata. they were asked questions on what they perceive as courteous / polite acts. Mumbai. especially from their daily routine. 3. Most people greet their teammates loud and clear as this is often considered to be an important part of maintaining a good relationship within a team.

About 70% of the people surveyed mentioned thanking their employees / subordinates for routine activity. 10. 7. it plays a very important role in the group behaviour in the following ways – . Paying more attention to a gadget rather than to the person sitting next to you is considered rude in every culture. Contribution to Organisational Behaviour Now the main question that remains is why is Courtesy important? Courtesy is important because it shows our respect. it is likely that we will hear more curse-words from the generations to come. consideration and care for others. However. Most have claimed that they do not have time for small-talk or that they just don’t care enough. When surveyed. Swearing – Most of the people canvassed responded that they inadvertently swear when something goes wrong. 6. When we asked the responders on how many times they were thanked by others while getting something done (like buying some goods or while getting served in a restaurant). However. 4. 5. the ringtones kept by the people or the type of car-horns used gives a reflection of the culture – Indians are more likely to use a Bollywood tune. where they need to be patient and also provide help as much as possible. Monitoring – Almost everyone (95%) responded that they are more courteous in the presence of someone whom they want to impress (elders / girlfriend or boyfriend / boss). This is an integral part of being courteous. – some of them had taken courses in German (Deutsch) in which the first words that are taught are bitte (please). At times. Also many interviewed had been in touch with other cultures. Rise in the use of swear words is the major factor that many elders believe that there is an utter lack of courtesy in the younger generation. danke (thanks) and pardon (sorry). Socialising while inter-networking – Recent social advertisements by telecom giants showed how people are using mobiles even when they are “going out” with their friends / relatives / loved ones. The inadvertent use of all-pervasive technology – Often. Japanese are more likely to keep it in vibrating / silent mode etc. only 35% people claimed that others come to them with their personal problems. around 40% responded positively. the fact is that this could be a result of a bigger picture of showing one’s emotions in the public. 8. they agreed that that the people serving in the food-chain restaurants are the most courteous. even though the head-waiter at any local restaurant is likely to be more talkative and friendly. As Indians are slowly moving from the British culture of emotional detachment to the American style of sharing one’s emotions. we are disturbed while travelling on a train or while in a waiting area of a hospital by someone who wants everyone what he/she is discussing on the phone. As such. However. e. Listening to others woes – this is a trait that is seems to be vanishing. it could be also be because the people interviewed understand that it is important to respect others as it improves their sense of achievement and helps them perform better. while ignoring other factors. some even claimed that it is the job of the doorman and not theirs. This is a phenomenon which is proven by the Stanford Prison Experiment and its contrast with similar experiment conducted by BBC.fared very poorly – some attributed this to their busy lives. 9. often in public.g.

c) Norming – This is the stage when the members know each other’s strengths and understand everyone’s capabilities. the level of courtesy displayed by the team helps in winning the hearts of the outsiders. but a lot of values are part of the intrinsic nature of a child. the courtesy defines how close the members will remain afterwards. Some of it could be attributed to the fact that many children today are brought up in nuclear families where both the parents are working. a lot of us think that courteousness is a result of our upbringing. . After all. rather. Small acts of courtesy increase the level of comfort between the team members. b) Storming – At this stage. kindness and the willingness to help others surely the world would be a very unpleasant place to live in. Also. the child has less exposure to family bonding and low experience of what is expected of him/her as part of his/her culture. the less courteous it is becoming. encouragement by the peers and elders in the group. d) Performing – During this stage. a level of respect and courteousness grows towards some particular members of the group. However. these are small but meaningful ways to make life more pleasant for the people around us. if there is outside interaction. Conclusion The studies clearly show that while our world is getting more and more tech-savvy. it leads to further bonding amongst the team members. leads to absence of family-based values in a child. In future. At times. this may lead to unsocial tendencies.the list is neverending. Thus. it is a quite clear that without courtesy. it helps in issues coming out and being argued. 2. covering our mouth when we yawn or cough . but in a manner which doesn’t break the group apart. when missing. “thank you” when people do us a service. This is often the cause for the attraction between the team members. Courtesy in a formal group – Courtesy forms an integral part of interaction in a formal group as it is one of the pillars on which the hierarchical structure. e) Adjourning – When the team is falling apart.1. This can lead to a lack of courteousness and a general lack of sympathy for others. The others are purpose and authority (which commands respect). even then. these are usually the members who are perceived to be hardworkers or thought-leaders in the group. It is considered polite to keep in touch. where no part is played by the external environment. politeness. though not essentially too friendly (if the group was purely professional / formal in nature). Also. holding a door for the person behind us. Courtesy in an informal group – Many people have the belief that courtesies are not required as part of an informal group – in fact the way to distinguish between a formal and informal is the relative lack of courtesies exchanged between members. not talking in movie theatres. During this stage the team members are generally courteous as per the accepted levels within the team. basic courtesies need to be followed as it leads to an environment in the group where everybody feels as an integral part of the group. This crucial aspect of upbringing. the level of courtesy within the group helps in improving the performance of the group by acts of praise. Saying “please” when we would like something. From the above discussion. Courtesy are required at every stage of team-building – a) Forming – Helps in quick integration of the team. It is also important in any interaction outside the group with other teams.

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