The missing C in professionalism

I have been promoting increased professionalism in our industry for over fifteen years. In that time there has been much discussion and work on how to improve areas such as competence and integrity of individuals. And whilst noone ever disagrees with these what all too often lets people down is courtesy.

The origins of courteous lie in the medieval royal courts of France which were associated with beauty, good behaviour and being well-bred. Presenting oneself with appropriate manners offers respect, politeness and consideration to others.

Senior and experienced professionals should also act with good grace and civility not only through what they say, but what they do. The culture is set in terms of what is appropriate and acceptable behaviour as soon as a newcomer first interacts with an organisation, typically through the hiring process.

But courtesy is so simple and often neglected: lateness for meetings, overrunning, lack of respect for people’s time (eg not having an agenda or objective for a meeting), using the wrong means of communication to convey a message (eg there is no such thing as an urgent email), not returning phone calls, cancelling an obligation at the last minute, failing to meet an expectation you’ve set.

On this last example, try explaining why it is OK not to fulfil a promise.


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