There’s Always Time For Courtesy

“Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.”

— Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Like the two pints of blood removed from me, there were also two experiences.

Experience, the first. 

The first experience was with a very overwhelmed check-in attendant. He was quite elderly, and although he seemed to have his heart in the right place, he just could not seem to get things organized. He lost paperwork, couldn’t get the blood donors name entered in the computer, didn’t know which paperwork to send. As the line of people built up, I was rather embarrassed for him.

After he finally got my paperwork settled, he handed me off to a Red Cross technician who took all my information. He was a no-nonsense man who didn’t smile. He asked questions, wrote down answers, and made no small talk. Halfway through the interview process I was handed off to another technician. She asked me a series of questions in a sarcastic tone, coupled with an air of exasperation at my answers.

Even though I’ve given blood many times before, this experience left me feeling a little unsettled. I didn’t have much confidence that things would go well. So far, it was a bad experience.

Experience, the second.

Settling into my blood chair a bit discomforted, I was approached by a polar opposite personality. She was prompt, efficient, courteous, and seemed genuinely interested in making sure I was comfortable. Even when the machine hiccuped, her sense of ease and good nature kept me from being unsettled. We had a pleasant conversation ranging from deer meat and the Rose Bowl, to donation-related convulsions of Ms. Oregon all while a little device called an apheresis machine did its job; taking first one pint of blood from me, then another while separating and returning the plasma back to my arm. It was a good experience.


Competency and courtesy makes a huge impression on a volunteer. A volunteer needs to be made to feel that he or she has value and that their time is important. A harried check-in clerk can make a new volunteer, who is already nervous, even more uncomfortable. An unfriendly person can make the volunteer feel pretty miserable.

If your organization is not getting or retaining volunteers, take a hard look at the people on the front lines. Are the volunteers treated with courtesy, friendliness and a general impression that their time is valuable? Or, are the volunteers uncomfortable with sloppiness, disdain, rudeness, and incompetence?

Treat volunteers with the respect they deserve and they will come back.

Gave two pints of blood today through a novel process called a double red cell donation.  Overall, it was a good experience.  

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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1 Response to There’s Always Time For Courtesy

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