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Show Your Manners and Respect Everyone

We heard from our parents how important it is to "mind your manners." Those manners are not just for your betters. You need to show respect to everyone you meet—even those you may not meet, who are behind the scenes. Aretha Franklin was right: Everyone wants R-E-S-P-E-C-T. To defuse negativity and lubricate organizational wheels, be sure to show that you feel everyone matters—along with what they do.

I’m always surprised when people don’t have time for manners, especially with support staff. In fact, the lower someone’s job grade, the more gracious and polite you should be to that person. Your kindness will be appreciated and returned in unexpected ways. In contrast, individuals who see themselves as slighted can react by causing trouble in more subtle ways, acting as "antibodies" in your working life as they try to get back at you or the company. Resentful people may try to put obstacles in your way or refuse to do more than the bare minimum for you. So be polite to everyone, no matter how you personally feel about them. It never pays to make enemy "antibodies" at work.

With small gestures, you can become known as someone who considers others and values their contributions. This doesn’t mean memorizing a big book of etiquette. It does mean being consistently polite and patient. When you use your manners consistently, you show that you’re capable of assuming a higher-level position and moving ahead in your career.

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