When I was a child, around the time the Diplodocus was just about to go extinct, my mother taught me a valuable lesson.  ‘Always be polite.’ You know the rudiments; say please and thank you, hold the door open for others, give up your seat on the bus or tube for a woman. All the elements a polite society instills in its youth. 

Something seems to have happened though and politeness has been shown the door (and no one even held it open). I’ve noticed it over the last few years and it has got worse since the recession of 2008. I realise emails are a bit impersonal and for things like job interviews a person can be deluged with applications and answering every one personally is impossible, but the decent thing to do is provide an answer. 

As a photographer, I let people know about different work all the time. I’m not touting for business directly, I am just asking people to look at new projects I’ve worked on. However, the number of replies I get is pitiful. It doesn’t take long to say “thanks I’ll take a look”, or “I loved them”, or even “the pictures were not for me”. But I get very little acknowledgment let alone feedback.

I suppose I have to expect that. Unsolicited emails can get annoying especially with all the impersonal spam around, but a quick response takes no time at all. 

For the moment it sounds like I’m moaning about people not responding to my marketing emails, but what about when I’ve been asked to give up my time and expense to attend a meeting? I get promised an answer about the work within a couple of weeks and then nothing happens. I hear nothing. 

If that happened once, I’d put it down to an error, a missing email or one person being impolite. But it happens more often than it doesn’t. If someone asks me to their workplace to talk about my ideas to better their business the least they could do is send me an email to say whether they want to work with me or not. Rejection is part of the creative business, rudeness is not.

I cannot be the only person to experience it. Anyone who has applied for a job will have seen the line which is almost standard these days. “Unsuccessful applicants will not receive a reply” Or words to that effect. Why shouldn’t they receive a reply? It is not difficult to set up a standard email thanking someone for taking the time to apply for a job, but on this occasion they were unsuccessful. A group email with everyone as a BCC is easy to send and the least an employer should do. What sort of a message is a company sending to potential customers if they treat people who want to work for them so badly?

Being polite, is a small part of this world, but a very significant one in my opinion.

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