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Reader's Digest Study: Manila, No.22 of 36 Cities Tested for Politeness

Skyline of the City of Manila, seen from the C...
Skyline of the City of Manila, seen from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are we Filipinos polite? Well, politeness is a blurry quality that is not easily measured because it can be affected by an individual's viewpoint and his cultural background which includes the customs and norms in his community. For instance, a polite gesture in one culture may be the exact opposite on the other.

Well, one interesting study conducted by Reader's Digest aims to measure the politeness of major cities in the world by what they determined to be a commonly accepted polite behavior in most parts of the world. They did the study by these three situations:

(1) For 20 times, the researcher follows a person in a door of a public building and see if the one ahead will hold the door for him.
(2) The researcher buys small items from 20 different stores in the city and see how many will say "thank you".
(3) The researcher drops a folder full of documents in 20 different busy locations in a city and see if somebody will help pick the scattered docs.

The result is: Manila is in 22nd place. And don't be surprised with the winner, New York City. Contrary common views that people in that wealthy city were high headed, in this study, they appeared to be the most polite scoring 80%. In comparison, Manila, Philippines scored 48%.

More Politeness Needed Especially in Government and Business
Well, whether you agree with Reader's Digest findings or not, it would be very good if we could take politeness seriously in our country. How many times you felt bad because instead of receiving assistance, the salesperson in a store obviously shows his or her reluctance to help? And how many times was your day ruined because of poor customer service when you called the tech support of your home appliance or utilities?

Well, to be fair, I think customer service in the Philippines is generally improving, thanks to the influence of BPOs who are focused in serving offshore customers at the best possible way. Also, thanks for increasing market pressures and healthy competitions that forces many companies to focus on customer relations. Well, honestly though, we are still far behind many progressive countries especially in the western hemisphere where the business culture is "serve the customer the best". There are still areas of the market where there is small or virtually no competition leaving the customer with no choice.

Also, government services is another area where the Philippines should be working on especially in politeness and customer service. Sadly, though doesn't apply to all government offices, the common impression is that when it is a government service, the process is "sluggish" and the people are not friendly and polite. Well, I personally saw progress in some government institutions with regards to this matter, thanks to new and more efficient processes being implemented in them. But again, it will take a long journey before we can be change that reputation.

If you want to see the complete list of cities tested as well as other findings and interviews, see the article of Reader's Digest here: HOW POLITE ARE WE?
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