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Mette Poynton Headshot

Hello New Technology, Bye Bye Common Courtesy!

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When I, at 18, graduated sixth form college back in Denmark, I decided my next step in life should be a year of work experience in a London hotel. This is 18 years ago now (what?!) and although we did have a computer at home, the internet wasn't mainstream so I was applying for jobs with an application written in WordPerfect on the computer, printed out and faxed to 25 of London's best hotels from my dad's fax machine.

In the days after I sent my applications off, I received several responses on the fax machine. Two weeks after I had sent my 25 applications off, I had 25 responses in total, by fax or by letter. Everyone had had the decency to respond to me, even the ones who kindly rejected me. I then set off to London to attend the interviews I had set up from home, and a new and life changing chapter in my life began.

Fast forward 18 years to today. Communication has never been easier or faster. WordPerfect has not been in use for many years, fax machines are practically extinct, and, apparently, so is the kind of common courtesy where, when you apply for a job with a company, they have the decency and respect for you to send you a nice response, whether they want to go further with your application or not.

I recently was offered the opportunity to do two different business proposals for two companies locally. One was on my own initiative, one was on the initiative of a company who wanted to see if I was right for a temporary job they had coming up. I did both, they happened to be on the same day. From a source within the two companies, I was told that they had both very much enjoyed and appreciated my efforts. I had not been right for the temporary one, the other was interested in what I had proposed - very nice, so far so good. But that's all I've heard... none of them have contacted me since - to the one I heard was very interested, I even sent a nice courtesy email after two weeks to ask for an update, this email has also not received a response. How rude!

A friend of mine recently found herself back on the job market. She applied for several positions online and locally on her own initiative. From about 10% she received responses, 90% never bothered to contact her with a response, negative or otherwise. How rude!

Another friend of mine had similar experiences and on two occasions he was never even contacted again with a rejection or explanation by two companies where he had been on SECOND interviews. How very rude!

Really, people? It has NEVER been easier to communicate, we don't even have to make uncomfortable phone calls, we can just send an email and go on with our lives. Surely, when someone takes time out of their day to approach you for whatever reason, the decent thing to do is to answer them.

Why has common courtesy and good manners gone out the window? Is it because the world wide web is so impersonal that we don't think of those on the other end as real people? Or have we, as a people, just become more rude and indifferent and this behavior is now the norm?

I propose that we continue to embrace the great new technologies while we ALSO go back to where common courtesy and good manners were important.

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