What ever happened to class?

Several years ago I was cold called by a senior communicator from a large, packaged goods company, who was looking for someone to lead her internal communication team. We had several amazing telephone conversations, traded tonnes of email, and had a face to face interview. The interview – I thought – went well, as did the follow up telephone conversations I had with her and the head of HR. Then came the deafening silence. For over a month I heard nothing (yes I did follow up – crickets). Finally, I opened my physical, OUTSIDE mailbox one afternoon and found the FOAD letter. My name wasn’t even spelled correctly. Classy. Well, at least they told me. Eventually.

Everyone has a story about being shafted by a hiring manager or HR, so this isn’t new news. Unfortunately, I’m getting the impression this type of disrespectful, dismissive behaviour is becoming the new normal in business period. Observe:

  • Booked a meeting with someone but something else has come up? Forget about it. No need to call them to give them a heads up at all, but if you do, make sure you wait until the very last minute so they can’t use that precious time in another way.
  • Promised someone something, like important data they need to complete a task and still haven’t sent it? No biggie. If they really needed it, they’d call or email you, right? (Oh yeah, when was the last time you checked your voicemail? And wow, isn’t there a lot of unopened mail  in your inbox…).
  • Haven’t bothered to learn the proper spelling of a colleague’s name? He’s “Bob” but you call him “Bill.” Hey, call him whatever you want, particularly if he’s a consultant…he’s just happy to get your money.
  • Received a deliverable from someone but still haven’t acknowledged receipt or thanked them, days or weeks later? Yeah, it’s okay to take a pass on that one too, especially if they stayed up all night getting it just perfect for you.


I consider myself extremely fortuitous to have some great clients who treat me with respect. I believe it’s get what you give, in business and in life (read my book An Honest Living for more), and I try to be responsive and respectful of people at all times. And I’m so delighted when I get it in return. It’s nice when we respect each other, isn’t it?

This isn’t rocket science … it’s just basic class. Perhaps it’s time we all go back to class and re-learn some good, old fashioned manners.

My point, other than to rant? Be careful what you give… like a boomerang, it all comes back to you.