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Good manners at the workplace

President Duterte recently signed into law Republic Act No. 11476, or the GMRC (good manners and right conduct) and Values Education Act, which requires the teaching of GMRC subjects from kindergarten to senior high school.

GMRC refers “to certain and particular universally accepted basic social values and etiquette and/or proper modes of behavior that convey respect to those whom one interacts with.”

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GMRC was a regular subject in the elementary grades until 2013 when the K-12 curriculum was adopted by the government. In the new curriculum, GMRC was integrated in other subjects.The law’s principal author, Rep. Roman Romulo, said

“[A]ccording proper respect to people, upholding discipline and order, and cultivating sincerity, honesty, obedience, and above all, love for country, will again be inculcated in our youth.”Lessons on GMRC, however, should not be limited to our youth. Some people engaged in business and professional activities could use instructions on GMRC, too, in their workplace.In today’s fast-paced business world, when transactions can be completed in minutes (if not seconds), negotiations conducted via videoconferencing, agreements forged with the use of SMS (or text messaging) and documents transmitted digitally, genteel or courteous behavior that traditionally marked business and professional relationships seem to have taken a backseat.

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The drive to succeed or get ahead of the pack as soon as possible, even at the expense of others, has become a motivating factor in disregarding simple acts of courtesy and good behavior.

Take a look, for example, at the way some people treat appointments or scheduled meetings.

Unless the appointment or meeting is with or was called by a superior who is a stickler for punctuality, expect some attendees to arrive late or not at all.The excuse often given to explain the tardiness is either the attendee got caught in traffic or something unexpected came up that required his or her immediate attention.

The latter excuse may be acceptable, but blaming the traffic is shopworn or too convenient for comfort. This alibi assumes slow traffic in the metropolis is a new phenomenon and that it caught the attendee by surprise.

A person who values or respects other people’s time will make allowance for possible delay in traffic to enable him or her to get to the appointment or meeting on time.

If coming late is done on purpose as an “ego trip” or expression of self-entitlement, that person has a problem bigger than being ignorant of GMRC. Several sessions with a shrink would be in his or her best interests.Another example of behavior in the workplace that calls for lessons in GMRC is failure to return calls, or acknowledge receipt or reply to appropriate (repeat, appropriate) text messages.

When a person is unable to answer a call for one reason or another, or receives a text message, common courtesy requires that the call be returned or the message responded to within a reasonable period of time, unless there are justifiable reasons not to take any such action, e.g., in the case of crank calls or spam messages.

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Returning calls or replying to text messages is an expression of respect for the other party. It is a subtle way of saying that he or she is of good worth and therefore deserving of the reciprocal action.

There is a long list of acts and behavior that reflect GMRC at the workplace, e.g., saying “please” and “thank you” when something is being asked or has been done, exercising care in the choice of words when talking or communicating with others, or not looking into someone’s computer while he or she is using it.The guiding principle of GMRC is the Golden Rule: Don’t do to others what you don’t want others to do to you.

One final word to people in a hurry to ascend the corporate ladder. Be nice to the people you meet on your way up because they will be the same people you will meet on your way down. INQ

For comments, please send your email to [email protected]

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