Some years ago, when I was transitioning from early career to whatever I am now, I found myself in an amusing position to test people’s perceptions of themselves. As the gatekeeper for several thought-leadership corporate blogs, I was the one with the power. I was the one who managed the editorial calendar, made other people’s content read and look as good as possible, and ultimately hit “publish.” You’d think people would have understood how important it was to be nice to me. Did they?
We are all busy. That’s why it’s called “business.”
There is never an excuse for being rude. I can understand that we all have busy workdays, and are often under a lot of stress. It may seem tempting to treat those people with “less important” job titles without care, as long as the “more important” people are impressed. Corporate life is really a big stage production. We are often evaluated on the delivery and impact of our presentations, but what happens backstage? Do you yell at your stage manager? Do you bark orders at the cast members without speaking parts? Do you have different standards for yourself behind the curtain?
Earlier in my career, when I was an Executive Admin (secretary), I realized that most people were nice to me because they wanted me to remember them, for next time they asked for a meeting with my boss. It made sense, it was clear, and it didn’t bother me in the least. Later, when I transitioned to being one of many Marketing minions, I fell into the pool of anonymity. Marketing machines run on the backs of many, many minions. This minion understood the power of images, knew how to edit without betraying the author’s voice or message, and had creative ideas for content distribution. But since she didn’t have a brand of her own yet, her job was to publish other people.
Nobody remembered the bad eggs by their names.
If you’re waiting for me to name the people who were rude to me, you’re out of luck. I don’t remember them. I don’t know where they are today. The more they told me to “hurry up,” “prioritize” them, and realize how “strategic” their content was, the more I looked into it. Yes, if the content was tied to a product launch or company announcement, it went to the top of the list, no doubt about it. But in most cases, they just wanted to impress upon me that their stuff was more important than everybody else’s stuff. Really?
You know who always got me to open her emails first? Jennifer Wei. If I was a minion, she was an even littler minion. She was fresh out of college and didn’t have a fancy title, but she did something absolutely no one else was doing: Jennifer always said “Please” and “Thank You!”. I enjoyed working on every single piece of content that Jennifer sent my way. She may have been younger and less “experienced” than the “important” people, but in most cases, her content was actually better! She wrote well, edited flawlessly, understood HTML and SEO, incorporated video, and experimented with social media. I remember Jennifer.
“Please” is professional.
As a matter of fact, I was so impressed by Jennifer’s professionalism, that I sought her out so we could meet in person, and we became friends. We stayed in touch and collaborated on projects beyond our day to day scope. My interest in Jennifer led to an interest in her professional career. And today, I have the job of my dreams, thanks to Jennifer, who introduced me to her favorite team-mates.
So, if you want to be remembered, advance your career, and make friends in the process, remember to always say “Please” and “Thank You!”. It’s good business, and it makes you a real thought-leader.