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Good Manners Lead to a Healthy Organisation

Good manners is concerned with the consideration of other people, not just in extending kindness but in treating other people with respect. Apparently people with Good Manners not only consider others, but also take care of their own health and hygiene better than those with Bad Manners, and it isn't unusual for Good Manners to be adopted as approach to avoid health issues. Think about the Catch it, Bin it, Kill it campaign for Swine Flu, and the focus on the declining standard of Good Manners, such as hand washing after going to the toilet, which is feared to increase medical outbreaks in the future.

I nag my own children, in the same way my parents nagged me about having Good Manners, even simple things such as the importance of using their 'P's and Q's'. It now appears that Good Manners do matter, and, not just for the pleasantness they create, but are also important for our Health but what is the importance of Good Managers to Health in the Organisational setting.

For example, how many times have you been left feeling annoyed because someone didn't open a door for you when you were struggling with an armful of files or disgruntled at the person in the lift who didn't hold the doors to let you in? Simple common courtesies such as these are essential in the office setting because harmony is driven by social interaction that sticks to the accepted levels of behaviour. But office etiquette can be shaped by more than normal social good manners. Political and power artefacts such as car parking places, coffee runs, photocopier etiquette and when to, or not to interrupt can quickly derail a whole department if someone gets them wrong.

The absence of practicing Good Manners in the workplace, even by a few employees can cause major disruption to the engagement of employees and waste company time in resolving workplace disputes over seemingly minor incidents such as not leaving the hot desk the way it was found, leaving dirty cups in meeting room or the mess left in the coffee room or taking other employees food out of the fridge.

You may be aware of faux pas that you have experienced. One such incident that seems fairly minor but resulted in an individual being left humiliated and awkwardness in the department was the result of a manager attempting to create a great working environment. The manager bought in doughnuts and chose to share them with members of the department the problem was that there were two doughnuts and three employees; the faux pas was made worse when the manager actually decided who to offer the doughnuts to. Ouch.

Feedback is essential to ensuring the acceptability of behaviour and good manners are understood by everyone in the organisation such as Managers thanking employees for expected performance and also turning off phones and closing the lid of laptops to create the right environment for meetings. Some 'skills' such as active listening and not interrupting are Good Manners. They are common sense but also contribute significantly to a productive and motivating environment.

Good manners also extend to the external environment. Learning how to shake hands, make correct introductions, write thank you letters, respond to RSVP's, respond in a timely manner to phone messages, be a host, be a guest, dress for the occasion and dine with manners these are all nice social skills; but what a difference they make to the impression your customers have to the professionalism of your organisation. The way in which individual employees interact with customers will determine whether the customer has a positive or negative experience of the organisation.

Do organisation need to provide 'Good Manners' training for employees? Quite possibly, it might just be very good for your health.

Froot Loops Gets a Healthy Food Label?

My two young girls are mad about Froot Loops, the brightly coloured, sugar-laden cereal snack that turns parents naggy whenever their kids pick them up from the store shelves for obvious reasons - they are too unhealthy to be indulged in and there are far too many wiser choices of sweet treats such as fresh fruits, yoghurts, and honey sticks.

Recently, much to my disgust, I learned from the news that in a food-labeling campaign to help shoppers identify healthier food choices, Froot Loops has been given a Smart Choice checkmark! How did such a sugary snack win its endorsement as a nutritionally superior food for kids? What criteria are being used by the Smart Choice program run by food consortiums and nutrition experts? For sure you don't need to be a nutritionist to know the great amount of processed sugar in that cereal. You instantly know it when you put them in your mouth! And by just doing a little research, you'll find out that it is 41 percent processed white sugar and contains processed flour, partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, and synthetic colouring chemicals. So, isn't this too blatant a move, especially in these days when so many kids and parents are so deeply troubled by the obesity epidemic?

What came across as the biggest ridicule is how Dr Eileen Kennedy, dean of Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and president of the Smart Choices board tried to rationalize the recommendation of questionable choices such as Fudgsicles, Lunchables, Mayonnaise, and Froot Loops as Smart Choices. According to the New York Times,

She said the program was also influenced by research into consumer behaviour. That research showed that, while shoppers wanted more information, they did not want to hear negative messages or feel their choices were being dictated to them.

"The checkmark means the food item is a 'better for you' product, as opposed to having an x on it saying 'Don't eat this,' " Dr. Kennedy said. "Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn't have the checkmark, by implication it's not a 'better for you' product. They want to have a choice. They don't want to be told 'You must do this.' "

"You're rushing around, you're trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal," Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. "So Froot Loops is a better choice."

Since when consumers are complaining about food warnings? Choosing Froot Loops over doughnuts is considered "healthy eating for kids"? So doughnuts can also become healthy if they are compared to deep-fried Mars bar? It's hard to believe that a prominent nutrition expert would provide such an irrational, eye-popping report, but then, in the face of all the ongoing conflicts of interests between sales revenue and consumer's health benefits, it might not appear so bizarre after all. Nevertheless, let's all be very vigilant when it comes to appraising and selecting foods from the grocery. Apparently the food industry has skewed many of its decisions when setting nutritional criteria. Shortcomings in the food can now be quickly masked by highly regarded health food labels like the Smart Choices. A lot of cereals and breads made of refined grains can easily get the seal of approval by just adding a few minerals and vitamins. As food fraud turns rampant and dishonest food marketing gurus become more dextrous in their selling tactics, I think as consumers, we should also gear ourselves up for enough information to dodge and keep ourselves shielded from all the flying darts in the shops.