On Being Boorish in Business

Most of us in the business world attempt to sell our products or services to others. In doing so, we try to present the best possible plan, ideas, etc. In exchange, we hope to be hired, or not. In either case, though, we expect the courtesy of a response or explanation if our services aren’t desired.

I’ve noticed a truly alarming rise in plain, old bad manners when it comes to this aspect of business decorum. For example, we’ll spend countless hours researching a proposal, developing creative ideas, pulling together a massive document and shipping it off to the prospective client in advance of an agreed-upon deadline. Then we’ll wait. And wait.

In one recent instance, I received an e-mail saying nothing more than "Thanks for your ideas. We’re going with another firm." In another impersonal e-mail, the CMO of a large professional services firm wrote a cursory note informing us we hadn’t advanced to the next round but offered himself for follow-up questions. I e-mailed asking for a date and time to speak. No response. Still others don’t even bother returning phone calls. My favorite example of business boorishness occurred a year or so ago when we were in the midst of a three agency pitch and were anxiously awaiting a decision. Leafing through one of our industry rags, I noticed an article announcing that a competitor had been selected. Needless to say, I wrote that particular erstwhile prospect a real "come to Jesus" note.

So, what’s become of common decency in business? Don’t these people realize that their poor behavior reflects badly on their firm and its reputation? In the final analysis, we’re all only one or two degrees of separation away from being customers or consumers of one another’s products and services. I like to think that if the roles were reversed, I’d treat fellow businesspeople with a little more respect.

One thought on “On Being Boorish in Business

  1. By far and away the best post yet. You are dead-on! I work with customers in the healthcare industry who have you jump through hoops to save their behinds (and it always happens at 5 pm on Friday) and it is not only expected by them, but a simple “thank you” is at times too difficult. And these are the same customers that call with all sorts of questions, only to go with other vendors at times and not have the common courtesy to let you know…