The 10/5 Rule, also known as the “Zone of Hospitality Rule,” is a well-known guiding principle for extending courtesy to customers in the hospitality, healthcare, retail, and other service industries. The rule instructs,
- Whenever a staff member is within ten feet of a guest, the staff member must make eye contact and smile to greet the approaching guest.
- When a staff member is within five feet of a guest, the staff member must also look the guest in the eye and acknowledge him/her with a salutation such as “Hello” or “Good Morning, Mrs. Smith.”
Many companies have adapted versions of the 10/5 Rule to improve friendliness, customer-service, and responsiveness. As I’ve written in a previous article, Walmart’s iconic founder Sam Walton instituted the ‘Ten-Foot Attitude’ and said, “… I want you to promise that whenever you come within 10 feet of a customer, you will look him in the eye, greet him, and ask him if you can help him.” At Disney theme parks, “cast members” are encouraged to make eye contact, smile, greet, and welcome each guest as part of Disney’s famous “Seven Service Guidelines.”
Courtesy is an Influence Technique
As expounded in Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help book How to Win Friends & Influence People, we are much more likely to feel warmly toward any person who sincerely makes us feel good about ourselves.
Likeable people not only succeed in their personal relationships, but also tend to be more successful at the workplace. Indeed, highly competent but unlikeable employees do not thrive as well as their moderately competent but more likeable peers.
Idea for Impact: Be courteous. Even simple acts of courtesy (making eye contact, smiling more, listening, showing sincere interest in others, for example) work as an influence technique because folks are much more likely to do things for—and accede to requests from—people they perceive as likeable.