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After several years of freelancing, of hosting events, of starting my own business and having it support me, I’ve learned a lot about the best tools and tricks to doing your own thing.

While having a VA, or accounting software, or a planner you love are all tools that people use to build their businesses, there is one tool that outpaces every other one out there. There’s one thing, that is available to everyone no matter the size or success of their business, that is the single most powerful tool I’ve come across.

Be Polite

What’s that tool? Simply put, it’s being polite.

It’s being polite to rude internet commenters. Being polite to rude customers. Being polite to clients who pay late. If you can be polite to the people who are actively rude to you, you are far ahead of other people in business.

It sounds sort of trite, but in the age of the internet, being polite is more important than ever. It’s become a skill, and an essential one to all business owners. Not everyone has it in their small business tool box, and they are worse off for it.

Why You Need to Always Be Polite

Let’s consider the fact that the internet is a firm part of our every day lives. Adults now spend about 11 hours a day looking at a screen. The internet is how we build and promote our businesses, it’s how we communicate with family and friends, and it’s a huge part of our education system.

The internet is also forever. Individuals don’t own their own data, and it’s impossible to scrub photos or words off the internet what with cloud software and screenshots.

Trust that the rude email you send to a customer will get leaked. People will scroll back through years of your social media content to find the racist thing you said in 2008.

Being polite is key to surviving, especially as the competition among small business owners grows. The market is tight, and in order to survive you need to go above and beyond.

Being polite helps to guard against a PR disaster, and it keeps customers loyal to you. We admire people who have ‘cool heads’ or who have ‘good manners.’ You want to be that business owner. Keep politeness in your tool box and you will become that person.

How to Be Polite 24/7

First things first; never respond to anything when you’re mad.

You’re allowed to feel angry or upset; you’re just not allowed to show it. Take some time away from the screen and breath until you’re calm. Then you can respond.

You can also outsource the customer service management if it’s in your budget. Sometimes we take things personally since our small business is often like our baby. Someone who is a little more removed from the company can be more objective, and has a better chance of sending along a polite response.