In praise of civility

One look no further for the stark contrast between John Key and the Labour party than simple good manners. Mark Textor, yes that Mark Textor, has written about the difference good manners and civility makes in politics:

Either way what has been missing in recent years is what our mothers used to call ?good manners?. I mention this because the one universal trait I have witnessed in the truly successful political and business leaders I?ve met is courtesy and civility.

I have found manners to be the clearest window into the character of people. Why?

Don Argus was fond of making a cup of tea for his guests. Finding the time to make a cup of tea for people demonstrates that he was not ?hassled?, that his office was running efficiently enough that he had the time for this simple courtesy. It demonstrated that he was not overwhelmed by being the CEO of one of Australia?s largest banks.

John Howard would always make a genuine inquiry about someone?s interests or the health of their family. In doing so he was demonstrating that he was not self-centered, that he was genuinely interested in what was going on outside his prime ministerial cocoon. In doing so he was also signalling that his time with them was an important investment for him, earning loyalty and respect. In fact on one occasion a colleague brought his two young boys in for a quick snap with the then PM, but ended up leaving 45 minutes later after Howard had given the boys a personal tour of his office, shared tea and biscuits and discussed the rugby and sports with them. Given that this happened the afternoon before a state reception for the Queen, the effort was pretty extraordinary, and importantly, never forgotten by the colleague.

And a warning for New Zealand politicians:

Former New Zealand National Party leader Don Brash, in his past life, was fond of tapping away on his smart phone while in meetings. This sent a signal at a very personal level to many he met that he was not prepared to listen, and his commitments to them and indeed to the country were formed not on the basis of understanding but of ideology and tactics.