When I was a manager, one of my best friends’ daughters was a receptionist at a competing company. Whenever I was thinking about hiring someone, I’d always check with her to see if that person had also applied for a job at her company and, if so, how they had treated her when they came to visit. Most people showed their best behavior, they were decent and respectful, but occasionally she’d tell me about someone who was disrespectful, impolite, or otherwise unprofessional. I never hired those people. They probably never realized that their bad behavior toward a receptionist at another company kept them from getting a job at my company.

A Big Oops

You’ve probably seen the stories on Facebook about the person who stole a parking space from another person on the way to a job interview only to find out that the person from whom they stole the parking space was also the person they were going to interview with.

Always Be on Your Best Behavior

There are many stories in business and in life about people who were not on their best behavior, they forgot to mind their manners and ended up being unpleasantly surprised to discover that the person they were rude or mean to was in a power position. Here’s a link to an article in Forbes on office etiquette and how to deal with bad manners at work.

Assume that anything you say will become public. Assume that everyone you encounter is either in a position of power or knows someone in a position of power. Assume that anything you write will be read by your mother, your spouse, or your kids. It’s not that we should never write anything negative. That’s not the point. There are times when it’s necessary to deliver bad news or discuss a problem. Sometimes, the problem is with another person or with a department. The point is to always be on your best behavior, to act in a civilized, dignified, and respectful manner, even when criticizing. You never know who’s watching, listening, or who might read what you write or hear what you say.

Setting the Standard for Civilized Behavior

The real measure of a person’s character is in how they act when they think no one is watching and in how they treat people who aren’t in a position to help them. Assume that anything you say, do, or write will be made public. How do you want to be perceived? We, in IT, touch every part of business, society, and the world. In everything we say and do, let’s act with dignity and respect. Let’s set the standard for civilized behavior.

What do you think?

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