I admit that rudeness really gets under my skin. There is never an excuse for it. I can deal with someone being direct, and I can be that way myself when the situation warrants it. You can be assertive without being nasty to the person you are interacting with.
If you were interested in hiring someone to do some work for you, does the applicant’s demeanor matter or should you be focused on his or her skill set only? The candidate’s skills and experience matter, of course. Unless you are looking to fill an entry-level opportunity, you do need to find someone who has the right level of experience to do the job properly.
An applicant’s work style, demeanor and yes – politeness – matters. No matter how skilled the person is, if every communication you have with them is going to be fraught with tension because they are difficult to deal with, it will affect your working relationship. Clients want to hire people who can help them solve a problem they are having and who are easy to deal with.
Since it doesn’t take any extra effort to be easy to deal with, why don’t you make a point of thanking a potential client for taking the time to consider you for the gig. Invite them to contact you to discuss the opportunity further. If someone sends you the dreaded, “thank you but we’ve decided to hire someone else” communication, thank them for having considered you and invite them to get in touch if their needs change.
Someone once told me that I could get anything I wanted, so long as I was polite. I took that statement to heart and while I don’t always get what I want (unfortunately), I can say that my relationships with my clients are positive ones. I don’t have any nightmare people that I work with, and not because I’ve had to eliminate them from my client list.
Does being polite from the initial contact matter? Maybe not, but it can’t hurt anything to remember the Golden Rule (and by that I’d mean “He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules”).