Politeness Is Always A Virtue — Especially For Websites4 min readDecember 1, 2015
Christmas is coming, and Christmas means gifts. People will be giving, and people will be receiving. Recently, I was discussing gift-giving etiquette with some business colleagues, and it turned out to be an interesting exchange, particularly when the conversation turned to the proper etiquette of receiving a gift.
Because of the hyper-sensitive attitudes of many people these days, one business owner asked how she can be sure that she won’t offend anyone with a gift that she gives. I said that my belief is that the person who should be concerned with not offending anyone is the person who receives the gift. It is, after all, a gift, and no one gives something with the intention of offending a person.
In the business world, a gift is a way of saying, “Thank you” for the service that someone has delivered, and gifts to business associates are much different from gifts to family members, friends, and even co-workers. In the business world, it’s possible to work with a customer or a supplier for years without knowing every little detail of that person’s life, and that lack of knowledge could result in an offensive gift if the recipient happens to be a member of the “I’m always looking for a way to be offended” class.
Suppose, for instance, that I write web copy for a client whom I’ve met in person only once and whom I know primarily as a voice on the phone. If I happen to write some copy that she really likes during the year, she might decide to send me a Christmas present to show her deep appreciation for my insightful use of interjections and noun clauses.
She’s met me only that one time, and she certainly doesn’t know whether my passion in life is watching pro wrestling or climbing mountains, so it’s possible that she could buy me something that would fall outside my rather narrow range of interests. For example, cheese is a popular present, but it’s not a great gift for a person with lactose intolerance. Suppose, though, that this client decides to send me a block of highly expensive Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. How would I react?
Well, I’d simply say, “Thank you. That’s very kind. Some of my friends have said wonderful things about those Venezuelan Beavers.” To do anything less would be terribly impolite to someone who’s showing appreciation for what I’ve done, and if a gift doesn’t thrill me, I can always become a re-gifter.
And so, you finally ask, what does gift-receiving etiquette have in common with a business’s website? Well, the common bond is politeness, which is always a good thing in life and in business. Accepting a gift graciously, even if it doesn’t exactly thrill me, is a display of politeness, and politeness is something that’s lacking from many websites.
A website that wastes potential customers’ time is impolite, and one way in which many websites waste visitors’ time is by failing to show clearly what the business does and how the business can improve a potential customer’s life. For example, an insurance company that works only with commercial customers should make that distinction completely clear on the landing page.
Sometimes, it’s just a case of clearly presenting the important little details. A restaurant or any sort of retail business that doesn’t list its hours and phone number prominently is not being polite to customers and potential customers.
When a website rambles on about the owner’s self-centered belief that he has the greatest business in this quadrant of the universe, that’s impolite. And websites that aren’t mobile-friendly are impolite because they’re difficult to read and to navigate on mobile devices.
Politeness is always a valuable business tool, whether it applies to gift-receiving etiquette or to your website. The team at Sharp Innovations can’t help you with your gift-receiving techniques, but we can make sure that your website is extremely polite to all your visitors. So take a look at your site and see if it has good manners. If it doesn’t, call Sharp Innovations for a valuable upgrade to your site’s politeness.