Common Courtesy is Not Always Common
Common Courtesy is not Always Common

6 Ways to Demonstrate Kindness in Business


On LinkedIn a few weeks ago, the post by a recent graduate stood out.

She was lamenting that despite being contacted by numerous headhunters and managers regarding openings, she had not been given the courtesy of an answer about whether she was being considered for the job at all.  The frustration was evident in her post and was echoed by those voices chiming in with angry emojis.

It was also clear that “ghosting” happens in business just as often as it does in dating.

There seems to be something missing in our business dealings today, something that is basic to commerce – professional courtesy.  Or is it?

Wikipedia defines professional courtesy as a “philosophy of particular professional behavior or etiquette extended between members of the same profession.”

As it cites, the concept was originated by the medical profession whose practice is to provide services to other physicians without charge. Although not limited to doctors, the medical profession can claim origination rights.  Today attorneys, those in the performing arts and law enforcement officers practice some forms of professional courtesy.

In ordinary business, however, we have a different concept – reciprocity which translates to common courtesy.

A colleague recently said that you really learn who the professionals are when you leave a company or start a business.  Those people who would return your phone call at the drop of a hat when your title could help them are suddenly unavailable when the title goes away.

As the concept of “friend” has changed with Facebook so has the concept of “contact” with LinkedIn and with it the concept of “returning a favor” or just the manners that you were taught at your mother’s knee.

Here are 6 things to consider when interacting in today’s world:

1.  Appreciate your followers:

Those following you on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook need to know that it is worth their time following you and what you have to say.  Tell them thank you.  It’s a simple thing.

2.  Return phone calls:

Yes, you get far too many robo-calls or calls from vendors wanting to sell you products or services.

Here’s the deal, however.  In sales, the object of a phone call is to gather as many “No, thank yous” as possible. If you don’t tell a salesperson NO, she will keep trying to sell you the same thing.

At least when you pick up the phone and tell the sales rep you are not interested at this time, you can proceed to the next conversation and she can, too.  Being in limbo for both you and the salesperson is a useless waste of time and very non-productive for both of you.

3.  Answer emails:

Ok, so you get 100s a day, some of which are not intended to get a response – like the promotions for your favorite products or political party candidate.

But the ones that come from people you know, deserve an answer even if the answer is negative – I’m not interested, I can’t do that right now, etc.  And as for those marketers of products and services, one of the reasons we have so much unwanted email today is because you haven’t responded to previous emails.

You haven’t opted out, so they assume you are still somewhat in.  Take the time this week and go through all the emails that you get from suppliers and opt out of the ones you really DON’T want to see.

4.  Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner:

It’s best to apply the 24-hour rule to all correspondence.

Try to return email and phone calls within 24 hours.  Many executives and managers actually put that expectation on their voice mail messages: “Sorry to miss your call, but leave your number and I will call you back in (fill in the blank with your expectation).” And then do what you say.

That’s the important part.

5.  Treat job applicants as you would salespeople:

If they don’t have what you need, tell them.  Don’t keep them hanging.  It’s cruel.

6.  Congratulate birthdays and work anniversaries:

It’s a small thing to notice when you log into the social networking sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) that one of your contacts is having a birthday or a work anniversary.  Tell them you noticed.

It’s a simple way to let a person know that you thought of them.  In today’s world of connectedness, we still have many people who feel alone.

You’ll find a little professional etiquette goes a long way!

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