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Random Acts of Rudeness

30 March 2011

Recently on a taxi ride from the CBD to Darlinghurst, the taxi driver was really rude to me – given I had never met him before, was unlikely to see him again and I had thought that taxis were a ‘service’ industry I was really surprised.  On arrival at my destination, I thanked him, didn’t give him a tip [as I generally do] and I asked for a receipt, then I wished him a great day somewhat sarcastically.  Not my best response.  And over the past week or so, I’ve received a couple of emails from people who were asking me for assistance – again somewhat surprisingly these emails were quite terse in their tone.  I decided that they were ‘random acts of rudeness.’- unnecessary and unprofessional.  In such circumstances it is difficult sometimes not to ‘give back in kind and in spades’.  I don’t always succeed but one of the premises I try to live by is ‘just because someone else is behaving badly, I don’t have to join them’.

I decided to look out for random acts of courtesy to reassure myself that ‘rude’ is not the basic approach of people that I come into contact with.  And on Wednesday I was rewarded with a really amazing contrasting experience.  The people who helped me are not generally seen as being ‘high level professionals’ – the first was the Route 376 bus driver who rescued the bag that my daughter and I left on a peak hour bus to the CBD because we were laughing and fooling around.   The second was the supervisor from the Randwick State Transit Depot who identified the bus [and there are thousands out there at 8.45 am] and called to let us know when ‘Bus 7353’ would be at Circular Quay on a short break.  Getting the bag with laptop, I Pad and documents was a huge relief – but even better was the wonderful smile from the driver when we thanked him and the friendly response when we called to thank the Randwick supervisor.  These two people could teach a few ‘professionals’ I have encountered recently a thing or two about courtesy and service.  Thanks guys for the positive experience – it makes such a difference.

Real professionals with a strong service orientation operate with courtesy even when they haven’t necessarily been treated that way themselves.  Where do you fit in terms of professionalism and courtesy?



  • Michelle Boyland

    Michelle Boyland 9 years ago

    I own a bakery, and occasionally get rude or cranky customers.My wonderful staff see it as challenge to send them away smiling, and 99% of the time they succeed! A smile and pleasant manner doesn't cost anything, and you make another persons day better.

  • Larke Riemer

    Larke Riemer 9 years ago

    Loved reading your article Rohan - in my role I travel a lot so at airports a lot as you would imagine. Last night coming back from a successful event in Brisbane I got to the line of people waiting to get onto the flight. I am a frequent flyer but opted to just line up with all the others who had been there for some time. I made the mistake of trying to change \"lanes\" nearer to the flight attendant and almost got thrown to the ground by a fellow who felt he was ahead of me. It felt the same as driving a car and trying to change lanes and not being allowed to. Like you I have also phoned through to an executive and given feedback when someone has really gone out of their way to assist. I wanted to ensure they were rewarded for fantastic customer service. On this occasion it was Telstra and I happened to have Catherine Livingston, the Chair of Telstra at a function and she was delighted to pass on the information to the right area. I hope the person in question got a big kick out of the recognition.Having said the above I am now really ready for a rest this week-end as March was a very busy month for all of us on the Women's Markets team here at Westpac. The 100 year anniversary of IWD was great fun.All the best