Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Professional Courtesy 101

The few small courtesies I’m writing about here are commonly lost in the shuffle and forgotten when good people are swamped. And if you forget or don’t demonstrate these courtesies people may find it understandable, and you may be easily forgiven. On the other hand, when consistently practiced, these few simple professional courtesies can go a long way in building and maintaining great working relationships, and in minimizing needless frustrations for those you communicate with.

I chose these because of how often I either experience them personally and/or receive feedback from others who appreciate them or are frustrated by their absence:

– When someone sends an email and you’re currently working together, or serving them as a client, or respect them as a colleague, or managing them, respond with a simple acknowledgement that you received it. A quick thanks or letting them know that you’ll need to get back to them in a couple of days will acknowledge the email, and more importantly, acknowledge the person who is sending it.

– When someone is reaching out to you to schedule a meeting, if they offer to tentatively hold a few times or dates until you confirm, do your best to confirm something promptly. If now is not a good time to get together, tell them so, and then they can re-open their calendars at the times they were holding for you. If you see the value in the meeting, and in the person who is seeking it, demonstrate it by confirming promptly, one way or the other.

– Offer a heads up as early as possible if a deliverable is going to be later than promised or expected. People will appreciate the opportunity to adjust the plan and your gesture of respect for the agreed upon target date.

– If you know you’re running late for a meeting—even a few minutes late—if at all possible, text or call the person you’re meeting with, to give them a heads up. Let them know you appreciate their time.

– Vendors and salespeople put a great deal of time and service into proposal writing with the understanding that the business may, or may not, come to fruition. However, a simple acknowledgement that the proposal has been received—especially when you requested it—is always appreciated. And if and when you realize you aren’t going to retain that person as a resource, it’s a great courtesy to send them a simple “No thank you”. Or, if you realize you may retain the resource in the future, offer some guidance as to when you might appreciate their follow up.

– A “thank you” is a given when someone is kind enough to refer you to a prospective client or resource. As important, is your acknowledgement and thank you to the person who referred you when you get the business!

Sometimes it’s the small stuff that can make a big difference. What’s been your experience relating to the courtesies shared here? Is there anything you’d like to see added to this list?

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