21st Century Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

by | Jun 18, 2018 | Articles | 0 comments

“There are so many unreliable people now that being reliable in and of itself is a valuable rare trait.” – Louis Leung

I have always thought that certain bare minimum requirements for etiquette are particularly important in business. For example: “do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it.” “Be where you said you were going to be, when you said you were going to be there.”

Now, before any of my millenial readers get their hackles up, let me just preface today’s blog post/rant by stating that this is not all about you. I’m finding the abovementioned bare minimum requirements violated by people of all ages and both male and female alike. Sometimes it’s people I’ve met, other times not.

Are Expectations Reasonable?

I’ve had a couple conversations with friends recently about this aspect of our current decline in civility. I definitely consider not showing up for an appointment, or failing to complete a basic task one agreed to complete, to be part of that decline in civility.

Of course, I’m all too aware that the higher my expectations, the lower my level of serenity. Therefore, the lower my expectations, the higher my level of serenity. That was a big part of my recent conversations with friends.

Which leads to my story of the day. I met someone at a networking event recently, whom I’ll call “this person” in order to keep gender out of it. This person sent me a “nice-meeting-you” email. I responded. This person then suggested we meet for coffee to see how we could help each other in our respective businesses. I recommended a time and place. I then received an automated appointment reminder, which I took as a Yes. Next, I added the appointment to my calendar as an event.

I’m big on keeping my word and making my appointments on time. If I’m not going to be early, I consider myself to be late. But I also realize not everyone is the same way. So I waited at the coffee shop alone. I gave it ten minutes past the appointment time before taking any action.

Then I looked up this person’s phone number in our email chain and called. The response I got: having some sort of car issue and am “stuck” in the next town over.

One Strike and You’re Out

Here’s my external response: “Okay. Why don’t you just shoot me an email when you get a chance?”

And here’s my internal response: “If I ever get an email or call from this person, I’m going to ignore it.” If this person at least had the decency to call me before I drove somewhere for nothing, it would be a different story.

Harsh? Perhaps. But how could I ever recommend this person to anyone I’ve ever met, much less done business with, after what I just experienced today? Bridge burned. Period.

What do you think? Do you have a “one-strike-and-you’re-out” policy like mine? Or do you cut people slack, knowing that you might end up letting them waste your time more than once? Let me know in the comments section below.

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