Professional Courtesy Never Goes Out of Style

The issue of professional courtesy (or seeming lack thereof) came up at a recent networking group meeting. With permission, I’m sharing the spontaneous suggestion list we generated, including ideas for live and social media settings. You can easily intuit the pet peeves that led to the suggestions.

Please add to the list and let’s all strive to put these into practice in real-time. 

At Least 15 Ideas to Help Bring Professional Courtesy Back:

1. Don’t send a Linked-In invitation without personalizing the note. (OK, this one was mine. It’s the height of laziness to skip this common-sense and common-courtesy step.)

2. If someone facilitates an e-introduction, thank the person who introduced you and take the initiative to reach out to the person you’ve been introduced to. Don’t let these go stale.

3. Jamming business cards into people’s hands at networking events isn’t networking. Introduce yourself, ask about the other party and listen.

4. One conversation at a time in group settings. Always. Forever. Always.

5. Say “thank you” constantly and mean it.  Say it in person, via-email, in social media settings…everywhere.

6. We all know that “Thank You” in your e-mail signature is in your e-mail signature. There’s something less genuine about that. Type it out yourself so it doesn’t look like you put it in your e-mail signature because you’re too lazy to type it out!

7. Auto DM messages on Twitter are generally not appreciated and frankly, they feel disingenuous.

8. Executive Recruiters, we know you work for yourself first, the client second and the candidate not at all. However, you have a professional obligation to loop back with candidates. These are people’s lives and livelihoods you are dealing with here.

9. HR Managers and Hiring Executives, see the comment on Executive Recruiters and follow-up.

10. For all of us: quit “effing” around with the smartphone when you are SUPPOSED TO BE ENGAGING with (lisenting to, talking with) other humans.

11. Beware overuse of “I” in your conversations. Every “I” is amplified 10 decibels above your other words and after a few, we grow deaf to your message.

12. The 3rd stall on the right (or any stall) in any restroom is not the place to hold a phone conversation.

13. Listen better.

14. Smile more.

15. Walk into a room and portray a demeanor of “You’re here and I’m honored to see you,” instead of the royal, “I’m here and you should be honored to see me.” Trust me, we sense which one you are portraying.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Courtesy given freely and genuinely pays handsome dividends many times over. What a great investment! Let’s bring professional courtesy back.

And to those of you who stop by to read and to share your wisdom, Thank You. -Art

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Art Petty is a Chicago-based management consultant focusing on strategy and leadership development. Art regularly speaks on innovation in management and leadership, and his work is reflected in two books, including the recent, Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development. (download a free excerpt at Art’s facebook page.)

Art publishes regularly at The Management Excellence blog at

Prior to his solo career, Art spent 20+ years leading marketing sales and business units in systems and software organizations around the globe. You can follow Art on twitter: @artpetty and he can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]