We learn through our first jobs how to conduct ourselves in the corporate environment and how to show respect to employers as well as colleagues. These behavioural norms can be adapted slightly depending on your industry but they keep to a certain core of, I guess you could call it, professional courtesy. The higher up the corporate ladder you find yourself the more, I find, people tend to lax these courtesies. So I think its important to remind yourself of the important few every now an then – just to ensure that you aren’t the problem with professional courtesy in your business environment.
- Respect peoples time
You knew this was going to be the first one right? Time is money, literally, and the entire reason we find ourselves in the corporate world is to generate money, so this is a waving red flag – don’t waste other peoples time.
Don’t assume your time is worth more than the next persons time either, just because they might be lower down the corporate ladder than you are. If management is late for a meeting I think it is just as disrespectful as it would be if an intern was late. Allow the person you are collaborating with the courtesy of knowing that you are running late and do your damnedest to ensure that this is not a regular occurrence as anything less than that is just rude.
With time management I think it is also a sign of professional disrespect to not allow the person you are working with efficient time to get stuff done i.e. prepare for a meeting or submit a report. With my corporate history being marketing agency based I am very familiar with tight deadlines, however it is in my opinion rude to unnecessarily put someone under pressure by commanding their product or presence without notice. This one makes me particularly mad because I like to produce a close to perfect product and for that I need realistic timelines. I find that this courtesy is often wavered as a display of authority… again something that grates my teeth.
- Respect peoples money
Don’t be late paying wages. Don’t under pay. Don’t discuss discrepancies on pay-day while holding off payment. Don’t make your financial problems mine. Just don’t mess with peoples money. As mentioned above money is the main reason for this whole song and dance so don’t… just don’t.
- Respect peoples space
I can’t help but giggle to myself as this point reminds me of a colleague I used to work with who would visibly shrivel and gag when her line manager would rest his arm on her shoulder while trying to explain something.
Again, my experience in small agencies often meant that there would be no formal HR department and we relied heavily on professional courtesy in this regard. In a line of work where your ‘rough date’ last weekend forms part of the marketing strat meeting it can be easy to blur some corporate relationship lines but let’s be clear… we are not lovers, we are not friends, don’t touch me.
Don’t stand too close to me either, just pretend I’m a robot and that I will process nothing more than your verbal and written communication – ok?
*This obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, some people like being touchy, but I think it would be safe to apply this as a rule of thumb until your colleague tells you otherwise.
- Respect people
My mentor told me a quote over 9 years ago that has always resonated with me. She said
“it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice”.
You don’t know what the next person is going through, you may know them professionally but you don’t know their domestic struggles. If someone took the time to wash up and get to work, regardless of their job title, treat them with respect (damn it). Whether they work with you, for you or above you, remember that they are there because you need them to achieve your corporate goals and they need you in some way or another. Just be nice.
Ok you can get back to being courteous professionals now 🙂 Thanks for reading.