Being Cordial


It seems that at this point in the election cycle, a topic like being cordial might seem past due. But it may be more important to success in an organization than ever before. It can set us apart from others who are curt or simply indifferent. Much of how we come across verbally and non-verbally can depend on the cordialities we use when we are interacting with others.

Cordial by the dictionary definition is about being warm and friendly. It shares the Latin root with “concord” (meaning “harmony”), and at its core means to have “heart.” It is synonymous with being friendly, warm, genial, amiable gracious, hospital and welcoming.

Here are some thoughts about simple ways we can be cordial–particularly in the workplace:

  • Greet people when you meet them.
  • Ask permission of others. Be sure to use please when requesting something of others. Avoid being directive.
  • Show appreciation to others. Say “thanks” whenever someone has done something considerate to you.
  • Sincerely compliment another when the opportunity arises.
  • Open the door for others and let them enter first.
  • When others approach you, acknowledge their presence either verbally or non-verbally. This is particularly true when you are already directing your attention toward another.
  • Refer to people by name if possible. If they are very much your seniors, “sir” or “ma’am” is appropriate. Avoid phrases like “you guys” or “hey you”.
  • Be respectful of others. Never use derogatory or potentially inflammatory language toward others or of the background they come from.
  • Avoid sarcasm.
  • Build on the strengths of others.
  • Avoid the use of “yes…but”. Rather, replace it with “yes…and”.
  • Avoid dominating the conversation. Find opportunities to ask for the opinions and insights of others.

Some people don’t like being cordial because it feels like you are being two-faced–especially for those you don’t care for. In truth, you’re not putting on a facade if you are cordial to someone you don’t like. It means that you are more professional and less immature. You can’t fake being truly cordial. It takes real work.

Consider how you feel when others have treated you cordially. Consider how you feel yourself when you treat others cordially. Consider the strength and self discipline you feel when you are cordial even though others may not. Being cordial makes life more enjoyable. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “The music that can deepest reach and cure all ill is cordial speech.”

Ask yourself: How could you be more cordial?

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