Business Manners that Pay


Hand-written NoteThe simple accommodations you make for your coworkers, boss, customers, and vendors cost you nothing, but give you a subtle yet strong advantage.

These are common, time-tested courtesies that are unfortunately not so common anymore.

Although not taught in business school, they can positively affect how others relate to you.

Showing consideration for others with whom you have frequent interaction reminds them that you appreciate their help and understand their concerns.

Here are some tips to help you make a positive impression and be more effective:

1. Keep them advised of your progress. Whether you do what they asked or not, tell them your status on a timely basis. Don’t make them have to come back and ask you where you are on a request. One or two days is too long. If they have to call you to ask, it’s stressful for them from two standpoints: first, they feel like they are nagging you, and second, they are a little perturbed they had to call you at all.

2. Thank them for the information. When someone takes the time to explain things to you in terms you can understand, don’t just say, “got it.” That gives them the impression that you think you are entitled to the lesson. This is especially true when the education they give you is not required. If you say, “Thank you for explaining that, it really helped me,” they will want to give you more attention in the future.

3. Speak up when you don’t get it. It’s OK if you don’t understand what is communicated to you. It’s not OK to pretend you got it when you still haven’t a clue. Later, when they depend on you to have understood certain principles, and you can’t perform, they will start to wonder. Challenge others to explain it again, and in different ways until you can say it back to them in your own words. They will be so happy you finally understood it, they will see it as their own personal achievement. People want to be successful at teaching, so let them know when they have succeeded – and when they haven’t.

4. Call back when you say you will. Often you will get calls that you just can’t deal with at the time. You might say “I’ll call you right back.” But you either have no intention of doing so or you just honestly forget. Write it down, preferably on your calendar. Don’t let them have to call you back. Calling back when you say you will shows the other party respect. They now respect you even more because they know you are busy but are still making time for them.

5. Send a short note. That’s right, a hand-written note. A post card is a lasting way to say thanks publically. Many in the recipient’s office will see the card. By taking the time to send a colorful post card, you communicate with them off line, off phone, off meeting and off lunch. The post card may stay out for weeks, especially if its eye catching. It will give them something to thank you for, and says you appreciate them personally.

There are many more courtesies we could mention, but these are a good start. Think about the other person and their feelings. Let her know she’s appreciated and you won’t leave her hanging. Reduce her anxiety by sending a subtle message that compels her to say, “I really like working with that guy!”

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About Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey

Starting in a laundry room with no money or industry knowledge, they built the iconic Best-Selling Barefoot Wine Brand - without advertising. In 2005, they monetized their brand equity and now offer proven business principles and real world experience. Visit our YouTube Channel →

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