Despite what some pundits have said, making people like you is not the secret to success. There are plenty of very rich, very powerful, and very successful S.O.B.s out there. In fact, there may be an inverse relationship between affability and accomplishment. Spend too much time and energy trying to please others, and you won’t get your own work done.
That said, there is no good reason for arrogance and no possible excuse for rudeness. It may take a little extra care and attention, but you can attain everything you want in life, reach all your goals, and accomplish all your objectives without making people dislike you. How do you get what you want in life without offending people? The answer is simple: good manners.
Being well-mannered means acknowledging people each time you meet them, remembering their names and something about them, expressing yourself in a thoughtful manner, and saying “please” and “thank you” every time it’s called for. (Many employees, for example, never say “thank you” for their Christmas bonuses. They simply take them for granted.) In short, being well-mannered means doing all of the things your mother told you to do ( or should have told you to do) when you were a child.
It’s surprisingly easy to forget your manners as you climb the ladder of success. With each step up in power and prestige, it’s that much easier to ignore a courtesy or to take one without thanks. Eventually, if you don’t watch yourself, you can turn into a character you wouldn’t like if you saw him on television or in the movies.
Here’s a quick checkup on your manners. In future ETRs, we’ll run some more.
1. Do you smile and say “hello” to everyone you meet each day? Even your assistant?
2. Do you listen attentively when your subordinates speak, even if what they are saying makes little or no sense?
3. Do you never raise your voice or lose your temper?
4. Do you say “thank you” every time it’s warranted?
5. Do you criticize people carefully and in private?
6. Do you praise people specifically and in public?
7. Are you careful about your appearance?
8. Do you know the first and last names of all those who report to you?[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]