As I’ve often said, I get inspiration for this career success blog in odd places. I’ve been having some pain in my right heel lately. Last week I went to see a podiatrist about it – Dr. Gene Rosenthall. Usually, I don’t enjoy doctor visits – long waits, doctors who are condescending, few answers to my problem.
I had the exact opposite experience with Gene Rosethall. He saw me within two or three minutes of my scheduled appointment — and apologized for keeping me waiting. He came in an introduced himself as “Gene Rosenthall,” not “Dr. Rosenthall,” putting us on an even footing; two people who were meeting to solve a problem. He showed me the results of the X-Ray taken by his assistant, and then asked if it were OK with me if he left for a minute to plug in the computer, so he wouldn’t lose any data. In short, he was extremely polite and engaging.
I enjoyed this visit and didn’t even mind that the X-Ray showed that I have a bone spur on my right heel – probably as a result of all those years on the rugby pitch. If you need a podiatrist in Denver, you need to see Dr. Gene Rosenthall at Rose Medical Center.
There is a career success point here. Gene Rosenthall is a gentleman. Being a gentleman never goes out of style. Tweet 76 in my career advice book Success Tweets says “Always act like a lady or gentleman. It’s not old fashioned. It’s smart business and leads to your life and career success.”
Last year, I did a series of podcasts on career and life success. Lydia Ramsey was one of my guests. Lydia is the author of a great book, Manners That Sell. She is a leading authority on business etiquette and protocol. She works with corporations, non-profit and educational institutions, helping people avoid the faux pas that can derail a career. She also writes a weekly business etiquette column in the Savannah Morning News. Recently, Lydia and I coauthored a book called Success Tweets for Creating Positive Personal Impact.
Here is an excerpt of my interview with Lydia.
Bud: One of the things I’d like to discuss is a word I use a lot. And that word is “gentleman”. I tell people that I try to conduct myself as a gentleman at all times. When I say this, I sometimes get some pretty weird looks. I’m wondering what your take is on this. Is being a gentleman or being a lady a dated concept?
Lydia: Well, in some ways I think that it has become that way. We’ve gotten so politically correct with the terms that we use that we’ve lost some important words in our language, like gentleman and lady. We’re just overly cautious. Many people in business don’t necessarily want to be referred to as gentlemen and ladies. They want to be men and ladies. On the other hand, there are organizations like the Ritz Carlton who want everybody to be referred to, including their own employees, as ladies and gentlemen. Their motto is “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”.
Bud: That’s really interesting. I take it just from what you write and your whole focus on etiquette that being a gentleman or a lady can never be harmful to your career.
Lydia: Right, you can never be too nice. And you can never be too courteous and respectful of other people. That’s really what etiquette is about and what manners are about.
Bud: I agree. So why are manners and etiquette so important for success?
Lydia: Well, I like to think about etiquette and manners as not necessarily about the rules, but about the relationships that we have with people and the way that we treat people. And all of this, as you know, is really built on relationships… relationships with your clients, with your customers, with your coworkers. Treating people well and with courtesy and respect is a way to build those relationships and to maintain them.
Bud: That’s interesting. Tell me a little bit more about this – not rules, but relationships. I’m interested because I think a lot of people feel they need to pull out their Amy Vanderbilt or Emily Post book and make sure that they do things exactly correct. What I’m hearing you say is that’s not as important as the way you treat other people.
Lydia: That’s right. If your mindset is really about being courteous to other people and just basically being nice to other people then you’re going to be exhibiting good manners. That’s really what it’s about. It’s not about a whole set of rules that somebody came up with that were designed to make us all a little crazy or paranoid or whatever. But it’s really about knowing what to do in certain cases. Obviously you want to do the right thing. But you will be doing the right thing if you’re thinking about the other person’s comfort and the other person’s ease.
Bud: So the real key thing is to think about the other person, put yourself in their place, try to make them feel comfortable and you’re likely to not go too far wrong from an etiquette or a manners point.
Lydia: That’s right.
I like Lydia Ramsey’s common sense approach to etiquette and how it can help you create the life and career success you deserve:
- Think about other people.
- Put yourself in their place.
- Try to make them feel comfortable.
If you do this, you won’t go wrong from an etiquette or manners standpoint. What could be easier or more common sense? In other words, most etiquette comes down to behaving like a lady or gentleman – the point I make in Success Tweet 76.
Zach Bussey is a Twitter friend of mine. He lives in Toronto and I live in Denver. Isn’t the Internet a great thing? Zach really understands social media. A while back, Zach and I exchanged a few tweets on the importance of saying thank you. Here’s one of the tweets Zach sent me…
“The word ‘thanks’ is used less and less. It’s unfortunate, because it’s the kind of word that can change someone’s day.”
I agree. A sincere “thank you” always makes my day. I really appreciate the people who take the time to thank me for these blog posts and my daily success quotes. My day gets a little brighter every time someone thanks me.
That’s why I end every one of my blog posts with, “Thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.” I really appreciate the time you take to read my blog. Thanking you is the least I can do to show this appreciation.
The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Etiquette is a matter of common sense. Lydia Ramsey, a leading etiquette consultant, says it’s as simple as one, two, three: 1) Think about other people; 2) Put yourself in their place; 3) Do whatever you can to make them feel comfortable. Follow the career advice in Tweet 76 in Success Tweets. “Always act like a lady or gentleman. It’s not old-fashioned; it’s smart business and leads to a successful life and career.” Ladies and gentlemen are gracious. They don’t worry about the rules. They worry about making other people feel comfortable and accepted. Saying “Thank you” often is a great way to brand yourself as a lady or gentleman. And, as Zach Bussey points out, “The word ‘thanks’ is used less and less. It’s unfortunate, because it’s the kind of word that can change someone’s day.” Go ahead, be a lady or gentleman. Other people will like you, you’ll like yourself more, and you’ll be on the road to the career success you deserve.
That’s my career advice prompted by a visit to Dr. Gene Rosenthall. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. And 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, 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 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 career advice book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb. You can find out about the membership site and get the career advice in I Want YOU… for free by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.