Business World Manners

8 Issues Of Manners In Today’s Business World


This post looks at the importance of manners in the business world, as well as some of the rudeness that exists in today’s business world and among today’s business people.

She should have been a football tackle – The woman who almost knocked me down as I was trying to get off the elevator on the first floor. She, like so many other people who don’t get it, barged into the elevator before the people already on the elevator were off.

Now, this isn’t just a manners issue. It is a simple logic issue. It makes logical sense to let people get OUT of the elevator before you try to get IN the elevator. But so many people are so narcissistic that they only see their need to get ON the elevator as quickly as possible to accomplish their oh-so-important mission.

The other day, I saw someone deliberately rush for an elevator so she wouldn’t have to wait for the man in the wheelchair wheeling himself over to get on. This goes beyond rude to unconscionable.

But elevators are not the only place where poor manners are displayed. Here are a few of the issues of manners in today’s business world, and some suggestions for the way things should be:

“Uh-Huh” Or “Sure” Are NOT Appropriate Responses To “Thank You”

This is one that irritates me a great deal. Someone cares enough, and is polite enough to say “Thank you,” and all you can do is GRUNT at them? Grow up. “You’re welcome,” “Anytime,” or “My pleasure” are perfectly acceptable responses. A grunt simply identifies you as having been raised in a barn.

Cell Phones Are Not For Restaurants

I understand that there are important calls that must be taken. Answer the call if you must, and indicate that you will call back in a few minutes, in an hour, or whatever. Then, go to a place where your loud phone voice (and, by the way, possibly confidential business) won’t be overheard by everyone and ruin their lunch.

Oh, and while this is not a business thing — if you have very young children and bring them to a nice restaurant (anything above, say, McDonalds) please take your offspring out of the restaurant if they start to scream, throw temper tantrums, or pound on the table. Some of us are trying to have a nice lunch with a friend, conduct business, or get to know someone. The general rule for restaurants and other public places is: if it will disturb other people in that place, don’t do it.

Approach Conflict With Courtesy

I’m amazed at how many people simply go off the deep end when there is a business or personal disagreement. It simply shows poor upbringing to threaten to sue someone, scream at them, or be rude to them, even if you disagree. There are many sides to every issue, and a good businessperson doesn’t automatically assume he or she is right or threaten the lawyers. This is a sign of gross immaturity. Unfortunately, too many people with this attitude are in business these days. But almost all conflict can be resolved courteously and with compromise.

Answer Idiots Softly

If you do wind up with someone screaming at you or threatening lawsuits or mob contracts, don’t let YOUR ego get in the way. Answer softly and with reason. My dad used to tell me never to argue with a fool because people walking by wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It remains excellent advice.

Be Courteous To Everyone

I won’t do business with someone who is rude to the waiter or waitress, or orders others around. Even if the service is terrible, take it up with the manager. This doesn’t mean you should let people be rude to you either, however. But there are ways of setting boundaries that are polite and acceptable. Set the boundaries, but remain courteous. “Waitperson” and “CEO” are simply roles we play in life. All of us, however, are human and everyone deserves to be treated as such.

Show Respect To Others

Learn the proper ways of being respectful to others, such as rising when a woman comes to or leaves the table, standing for a superior or business colleague, and so on, and do them unless you have a physical disability that prevents it.

Be Kind To Others

I notice an increasing impatience for those who are elderly, dealing with a temporary or permanent disability, or just a little slower than others. Remember that you, too, will be someday be elderly, might be disabled, and might not always live life in the fast lane. Don’t push by the elderly or disabled in your hurry to live your life.

If you must hurry, politely excuse yourself as you pass… slowly and with caution. I had some foot surgery last year and, when I was recovering, I didn’t move very fast. I had more than one rude person almost bowl me over in their rush to get past me and get on with their oh-so-important errand. Unless you’ve an emergency worker answering a call there is very little that won’t wait another few seconds for you to be courteous and kind. Not doing so simply marks you as a boor who shouldn’t be allowed in polite company.

Don’t Text

Texting when you’re in a seminar, a class, at a meal, or in an appointment is normally inexcusable unless it has to do with the meeting itself. For example, when I meet with a client, I will look up names of people or other information that might be helpful to that client on my laptop. But I’m not texting with my friends, I’m working for the client.

The basic rule of thumb here is something that has been lost in America. That rule is to consider the feelings and needs of others as being equal with one’s own. Stop and think of others first rather than making yourself the center of the Universe. You aren’t.

Mind your manners and treat others with respect and courtesy.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

John Heckers

John Heckers is president of Heckers Development Group, LTD, a consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado, specializing in Strategic Executive Coaching.


  1. Great points! I have been thinking about the decline of manners a lot lately. We also need to establish some walking protocols, like if you are walking 4 people across on the sidewalk, don’t make a single person walking towards you walk into the street so you don’t have to move. I think it’s mostly because the population is more and more self absorbed. I think most people would have better manners if they were made aware of how rude they appear.


  3. Great article! A must read for everyone; teacher and managers alike should be sharing these reminders.

    I suggest adding “Graciousness” to the list. When someone pays you a compliment the correct response is thank you. Don’t be narcissistic or defensive. Saying “I know” or explaining why the compliment is wrong (sorry gals, we’re the worst at this one!) is just as rude as saying nothing.

    A pleasant response to a compliment makes the compliment giver feel extra good.

    • Yes, another sort of dismissive knee jerk reaction to a compliment my friends have is to tell you how little they paid for whatever i’ve just said was nice. Just say Thanks! I don’t need to know where you purchased it and for how much. That should be your little secret to feel good that you found a bargain that was also something compliment worthy.

  4. I am almost always (98% of the time) doing all of those suggestions. The only one that I have issues with the topic heading is the respect topic. I was bought up that you have to earn respect, I will still be kind and do my utmost to ensure I am following societal protocols but I won’t immediately give away my respect to others. Making a note to read up on those protocols as the suggestions weren’t familiar. Oh and with regards to the elevators, I always try to make sure everyone who needs to get out can and those who are getting in can (I tend to hold the doors and ask what levels/press the buttons if I am close enough). Great article!

  5. Some great points, although texting during a seminar may be down to tweeting about the experience so it comes down to whether you are willing to accept that in todays ‘technological’ orientated world.
    That said I agree with everything, manners cost nothing and the times I have displayed good manners only to be repayed with rudeness has driven me to distraction at times.
    If everyone had some manners (and used them) then the world would be a better place for everyone.

  6. I am so pleased to see this article. Excellent points that apply not only to business to everyday life. Thank you.

  7. There’s one missing. If a person spends their time to come in and interview in person, they deserve to know the results – positive or negative. Too many HR people these days let silence be their “no, you didn’t get it” response.

    What they don’t realize is that people network and talk, and their employer’s image goes down in the local community when they treat people that way.

    • I don’t consider “no problem” to be ungracious. “Thank you” is acknowledging that someone went out of their way to some degree to do you a service.The person is literally saying that what you asked of them was not a problem for them to provide. In Hispanic cultures “de nada” is a common reply, and means “it is nothing.” No problem is a similar style of reply.

  8. Thanks for making many great points. I have another one to add. A few years back I traveled a LOT for work, mainly by air and I was amazed at how often people cut in line at the airport including when boarding planes, at the coffee kiosk, restroom lines, waiting for bags, etc.

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