Courtesy and Career Success

Lydia Ramsey and I have just published a new career advice book: Success Tweets for Creating Positive Personal Impact.    It’s about business etiquette.  You can get a copy at  Tweet 4 says, .  “Be courteous.  It costs you nothing and can mean everything to someone else.  It also helps in getting what you want.”

Last Tuesday my flight from Denver to Newark was delayed by about an hour.  Instead of returning to the President’s Club, I chose to stay at the gate and do some people watching.  I got to observe some courteous behavior and some very discourteous behavior.

First the courteous behavior — the gate area was crowded.  Three travelers came up.  All were over 60, one was in a wheel chair.  The attendant pushing the wheelchair was able to find only one seat.  He parked the wheelchair near it.  One of the wheelchair bound person’s traveling companions had a place to sit, the other did not.  A young man immediately got up and offered his seat to the other traveling companion.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I bet he is a career success.

On the other hand, I observed a 30ish couple who had staked out an area on the floor in the boarding area.  They had several bags that were spread over a fairly large area.  They had to iPads that they were charging and they were eating.  People could not easily get by them to get to the podium to check in.   The woman realized they were causing a bit of a traffic jam, and mentioned it to the man.  His response, was “Screw them, we were here first” – not exactly courteous.  Make me wonder if he is a career success.

Because of the delay, several people kept returning to the podium to ask questions of the agents.  One guy stood there patiently waiting.  Two people cut in front of him and approached the podium.  Finally, he said to the third person, “There’s a line here.”  The guy’s response – “I have to ask her (the agent) a question.”  He went to the agent and asked his question.  This guy was in his 50’s and looked to be a career success – he was sitting in first class.  He is someone who should have mastered basic courtesy by this point in his life.

Air travel is stressful enough these days – crazy TSA rules, overcrowded flights, delays.  Simple courtesy, such as displayed by the young man who offered his seat to people traveling with a wheelchair bound person, mitigates some of that stress.  Rude behavior adds to it.

If you want to become the career success you deserve to be, you have to become a courteous person.  Here are some of my thoughts on basic courtesy…

  • Open doors for others (regardless of gender or status).  Courteous people open doors for others and hold the door, until everyone in their party has walked through.  They also hold the door behind them if someone else is approaching.
  • Allow people to exit elevators prior to entering.  If you are near the buttons, press and hold the “door open” button until everyone in the elevator has made their exit.
  • Always stand to greet visitors.  This shows that you respect them as individuals.  Shake hands, and offer your visitor a seat before you sit down yourself.
  • Assist your visitors with their coats.  Offer to hang it for them.  If you don’t have a place to hang a coat in your office, place it neatly over the back of a chair.
  • Introduce the person of lower business rank to the person of higher business rank.

Here are some of my thoughts on business meal courtesy…

  • Wait until everyone has been seated before unfolding your napkin and placing it in your lap at a business meal.
  • Remember, your water glass is on your right and your bread and butter plate is on your left.  If someone uses your bread and butter plate, don’t correct him or her, just place your bread on your dinner plate.
  • If you leave the table during a meal, place your napkin on your chair.  Once you have finished eating, place your napkin neatly, but not folded, on the table.
  • Wait until everyone has been served before beginning to eat.
  • Do not put your purse or briefcase on the table.
  • Avoid using your cell phone during business meals.
  • The host should be the one to bring up business.  If you are the host, it is usually best to wait until everyone’s order has been taken before beginning a business discussion.
  • The most senior person in the group should pay for business meals – unless that person has delegated that responsibility.

These are just a few common sense tips on business etiquette.  If you follow them, you will find that people respond positively to you – that you’re making a positive personal impact.  And making a positive personal impact is an important part of life and career success.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people create positive personal impact.  Basic courtesy is the foundation of all positive personal impact.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 4 in Success Tweets for Creating Positive Personal Impact.  “Be courteous.  It costs you nothing and can mean everything to someone else.  It also helps in getting what you want.”  It’s true, courtesy can mean a lot to others – like the people traveling with the wheelchair bound person.  It also marks you as someone who pays attention to others – not just yourself.  Courtesy helps you create positive personal impact, and positive personal impact helps you get people on your side.  People who are on your side are more willing to help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.  You can get a copy of Success Tweets for Creating Positive Personal Impact at

That’s my career advice on being courteous.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of one of my other career success books Success Tweets Explained. It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened my new membership site on September 1.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  To celebrate the grand opening, I’m giving away a new book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb.  You can find out about the membership site and get your free copy of I Want You… by going to


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