College Central®

Ask around. The Network works.®

Career Corner
Rude People Foul The Nest At Work

Ramon Greenwood -- A dose of good manners here and there would surely make it more pleasant down in the trenches where we do business everyday.

Building a successful career is no walk in the park. Competition is fierce. Pressure and stress are always lurking around, ready to make things more difficult. Tempers get frayed.

Good manners are often overlooked in this environment. You don't have to be a career counselor to know that rude people foul the nest for everyone.

A few examples make the point.

Bad Telephone Manners Head My List

One of my clients for career advice declared: "One of the rudest, most irritating case of bad manners is when a co-worker stands in the doorway of my office, while I'm on the telephone, and expects me to read his lips or decipher his hand signals. Then when he walks away, I have no idea what he was trying to communicate; and I have lost the train of thought I had with the client on the line.

"For all I know, the client on the phone could have threatened to fire us or my co-worker might have been telling me the building is being evacuated."

Another example: You are a guest in another person's office when your host constantly interrupts your discussion to take telephone calls.

The lack of consideration is compounded when your host assures, "This will only take a minute," and then chatters on for ten times that long, including an update on his golf score. You are left sitting, pretending you are not listening to what is being said.

What about the times you answer the telephone and your caller's secretary says, "Please hold for Mr. Jones. He will be with you in a moment." Five minutes later, you are still holding the line. This can be particularly annoying when the caller wants to sell you something.

No less irritating is the secretary who demands to know who you are and what you want before she will put you through to her boss.

Bad manners on cell-phones are too numerous to even begin to list.

Bad-mannered Bosses

Bosses can be among the rudest and most inconsiderate people in the workplace.

For example, your boss asks you to come to his office at 9 o'clock. He wants a status report on your top-priority project. You arrive at 8:57 sharp because you don't want to keep him waiting. His secretary informs you he is running a few minutes behind schedule.

"Just have a seat," she says. "He will be with you shortly."

At 9:45, she reassures you that Mr. Big is about ready. At 10:15, you are ushered in to see him.

"I only have about 15 minutes until my next meeting," he says. "Just give me an abbreviated version of your report?"

More Rudeness

Another chronic breach of etiquette has to do with late arrivals at meetings. How often do you drop everything else to get to the session on time, only to have to wait for two or three of the other participants to show up? Sometimes they have to be called and reminded that the group is waiting. When they do come in, it is with little more than a flip, "Sorry, guys, I got tied up on the 'phone. You know Pete, you can't get him off the line."

Common courtesy is ignored at meetings when there are several side conversations going on at the same time someone is making a presentation.

What about the boss who takes the occasion of a staff meeting to chew out a subordinate? Bad manners plus.

And, by the way, whatever happened to the common courtesies of "Please" and Thank you"?

A dose of good manners here and there would surely make it more pleasant down in the trenches where we do business everyday.

Common sense career advice says, "Good manners start with each of us."

I wish you success!

Ramon Greenwood is former senior vice president of American Express; a professional director for various businesses; a consultant; a published author of career related books; a syndicated column; as well as senior career counselor for Visit Ramon at his Web site,, to sign up for his free semi-monthly newsletter, or contact him at

© 2007 Ramon Greenwood

Return to top

The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.