I have just received a research report (Thanks Sarah!) from the CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development). It is entitled “Head and Heart Guide – a business case for soft skills”. And then, in a leader column in the Saturday Times, we have a discussion on Andrew Mitchell, the new Tory Whip who has been accused of verbally abusing a policeman outside Downing Street. They talked about courtesy being an essential component of leadership. And they quote anonymous (the most prolific of all writers) who said “Never hire the guy who is rude to the waiter.” And Edmund Burke, who said “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength”.
Interesting stuff, to say the least. Lets just stick to this one component of the soft skill set. One of my old bosses had a phrase about waiter rudeness. “There goes one of those little big men, showing off by complaining”. Not little in stature – just small in mind. And it does seem to be men in the main who have this propensity. Maybe we should just call that ‘maleness’. It is probably more about the masculine and feminine sides of nature, not men and women?
When I was a National Sales Manager, we used to have reception check out the candidates. Did they speak with them, or down at them? Were they polite, or rude? Did they try to engage them? How was their smile? This was a remarkably
easy way of adding real evidence for future successful sales people. It was the people skill set that is hard to fully elucidate in the best behaviour setting of the interview itself. Simple, quick and useful.
One of my mum’s favourite expressions was “It costs nothing to be polite”. It obviously costs a lot if you are impolite.
I’m glad to see soft skills are racing up the agenda!