Are manners outdated? Are the rules of etiquette that were ingrained in the generations before us still relevant in this super busy modern era? It would appear that the generally accepted answer to this question is a resounding no, as many of us can attest to just by observing everyday behavior in the world around us. But is this right?  No, absolutely not. Manners are as important today as they were when Victoria reigned over a genteel society that rested on the very notion that civility was the crux of modern civilization in general and individual lives specifically.

“But, but,” I can hear readers say, “but no one else has manners, why should I? Why can’t I dash off that quick text or email without always regarding the feelings of others and making sure I place every word correctly so as not to offend? Who cares if I don’t pepper my phrases with please, thank you, and may I?  So what if I don’t know the names of the people who serve me in a thousand different ways everyday? It’s not my job to have to focus on those things, I am too busy, I am going every minute, I don’t have time.” Actually, you don’t have time not to be kind.

There is something in this world I call “The Invisible Economy,” and it is the goodwill that you bank every time you treat someone with respect, learn their name and use it every time you see them, take a second out of your day to ask the guy who makes your coffee how his day is going, or every time you pause in traffic and let the other car merge into the lane ahead of you. All of the kindness and goodwill you pay forward comes back to you in an infinite number of immeasurable ways throughout the day and it is this positive karma that makes your life run more smoothly and efficiently in a million small ways. It’s almost as if there is a bank in the universe that lends us goodwill and help when we need it, but only if we have paid in before hand by being good to every single person we meet, whether they deserve it or not. You can’t afford not to be nice.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the successful people around you. Study them for a while. Oh sure, jerks who are successful are plentiful, they abound, there is a whole computer manufacturing company that is extremely popular with successful people who had a CEO who believed that you actually motivate people through fear, intimidation and rudeness. A successful biography was published last year that might exceed Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as the go to manual for captains of industry who wish to get ahead in business. In recent news, much has been written about how much this destructive paradigm will influence how the top brass treats people in the years to come, because on some level, it works. This company is one of the most successful in the world.

However. There is another multi-billionaire who has probably twice the money and success of the aforementioned leader, and the very core of the second CEO’s belief is that if you treat people well, it will come back to you. He is known for motivating his employees to stay at their desks and work through lunch by providing them catered meals. He believes that if you put out money to begin with, you reap the rewards many times over in this invisible economy that exists among human beings. This man’s financial portfolio puts the first one’s to shame.

People are the key. I don’t care if you are someone who never leaves your office to talk to another human being throughout the course of a day. Every single business is a “people business.”  Businesses don’t run themselves, they are managed on every level by a human being.

If you treat people with kindness, you can go to the bank on the kindness you will receive in return. Try it. Feel free to use the scientific method and experiment to see if this theory works. One caveat: if you have not created a good will savings account with the people around you, don’t expect them to take to your new ways right from the beginning. It may take a few weeks or even a month of really trying to be kind to every single person you meet before you start to see the flow of how this changes your life. So give it some time. But if I were to offer a 100% money back guarantee, it would be on this one point, because I firmly believe that no matter how difficult at times it may be to remain compassionate and kind in the face of challenges, it will pay off major dividends in the end. The Beatles said it best; “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make…”

Homework for the weekend, be kind to a stranger and see what happens.