How Being Gracious Can Lead to Your Career Success

I was visiting with a client last week.  We were discussing political debates and attack ads. She felt that nastiness is a sign of the times.  She was lamenting the fact that we are not as civil to one another as we once were.  I agree.  Today, it can seem like being polite and mannerly is a thing of the past.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you can brand yourself as a polished professional by being polite and mannerly.   Tweet 73 in my career success book, Success Tweets says, “Be gracious.  Know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.  Everybody likes to be around polite and mannerly people.”

A couple of years ago, I published a book called Straight Talk for Success.  A few months after it came out, I received an email from a young guy named Jim whose boss had given him a copy of Straight Talk.  In part, here’s what it said…

Bud:

I read your book Straight Talk for Success, excellent.  You are indeed the common sense guy!  I have learned a ton from reading that book from how to brand myself, to dinner etiquette (glass on the right, bread dish on the left, outside-in with utensils).  Truly found your book easy to read and loved it…

I am 27 and feel like a sponge for all this information.

Just wanted to thank you for your words of wisdom and for writing about some of the unwritten rules in business.

That was great.  I always like to receive positive feedback on what I write.  However, I was gratified that by sending me an email, Jim was putting to work some of my advice on creating positive personal impact.  He showed me that he is a guy who understands the basics of etiquette.

Have you ever sent an email to an author thanking him for what he’s written?  Did you get a response?  Please leave a comment sharing your experience – positive or negative – with us.

Here’s a personal story about this.  A couple of years ago, I was in the New York City area.  When I’m there I listen to Q 104.3, the classic rock station.  Maria Milito was on as I was driving to the airport.  She played a great set.  When I got to the airport, I logged on to the Q104.3 site and sent her an email telling her I enjoyed her show.  I got a response from her in less than a half hour – big time New York DJ responds directly to an email from a listener.  Everybody likes positive feedback – trust me on this career advice.

Back to Jim’s email to me — sending a thank you note to someone who has done something for you is common sense and proper etiquette.  Sending a note to a stranger whose book you read and enjoyed is even better.  By doing so, Jim branded himself (in my mind at least) as an interpersonally competent guy, a polished professional, someone who is business savvy.

There is no difference between business etiquette and social etiquette.  Well mannered people always focus on making other people feel comfortable and appreciated – whether in a business or social setting.

As Jim points out when he mentioned business dining etiquette, there are some rules to follow.  But the rules only make it easier to concentrate on the conversation instead of worrying about making a social gaffe.  Most people will overlook minor faux pas if you are truly gracious.  It is a good idea to brush up on dining etiquette before important business lunches or dinners and interviews.

Sharon Hill is a friend and etiquette consultant.  She once told me a story of a young man who lost a sales job because he didn’t know how to properly eat a foil-wrapped baked potato.  Do you know how to eat a foil-wrapped baked potato properly?  I’ll send the eBook version of Straight Talk for Success to the first person who responds with the correct answer to this question.

Personally, I think the baked potato story is a sad one – for the young man and his potential boss.  Not knowing a minor point of dining etiquette shouldn’t disqualify an otherwise qualified candidate from a job offer.  If that’s the candidate’s only flaw, he can learn that lesson once and be on his way to his career success.  However, in this case the hiring manager saw it as a deal breaker – and he had the ultimate say-so.

When it comes to manners and etiquette there is an old saying…

Those who know, know.  Those who don’t know, don’t know.  Those who know, always know those who don’t know.

Think about it.  Take the advice of this career success coach.  Learn and follow the basic rules of etiquette – especially dining etiquette.  You’ll look polished.  You’ll present well.  More important, you won’t have to worry about the rules when you’re in a social situation.  You’ll be able to concentrate on the conversation – which is the important reason for any business meal

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people brand themselves as polished professionals. They create positive personal impact.  You can create positive personal impact by becoming known as a gracious person.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 73 in Success Tweets.  “Be gracious.  Know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.  Everybody likes to be around polite and mannerly people.”  Small things – like saying “please” and “thank you,” smiling at others, taking a second to hold a door for someone who has an arm-full of packages, allowing someone to cut in front of you in traffic – are the marks of gracious people.  A strong personal brand also helps create positive impact.  If you build your personal brand on gracious and ethical behavior, you will be well on your way to your life and career success.

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

Bud

PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb/

 

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Comments

  1. Hello Bud,

    This is a great and very relevant post. Thank you.

    Being sincerely gracious is, in my opinion, the best character trait one can own. It costs nothing, and is available to all of us. Not bad for something that can be so meaningful to others in ways we may never fully realize.

    It is the basis of my favorite quote ever by Ghandi…” Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    Jay

  2. Thanks Jay — that was a most gracious comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to add your thoughts to the conversation.
    Bud

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