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When Did Professional Manners Get Flushed Down the Toilet?

My former co-workers, other victims of corporate cuts, have complained bitterly about the lack of simple, respectful answers to employment applications. It’s true that business manners have joined ethics in a shallow grave, on the edge of town, but have manners totally disappeared? There is a reason business manners have waned, and with a few handy tips, you can help restore it and look like a Design Deity in the eyes of your clients — or something like that, maybe not as dramatic.

Restoring Professional Manners

Bad Manners
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

Automated Replies

Even I can remember when people apologised for not getting back to me within 24 hours. My clients outside of America, except the Argentinians and Italians, who always seem to be on vacation, climbing mountains, and generally having a much better life than I do, beg forgiveness for being more than twenty minutes late in responding. They apologise for their mistakes and with the exception of countries that start with the ninth letter of the alphabet, pay on time, and without arguments. So why is America so different?

Starting with job applications as the most annoying drop in manners, according to everyone who has applied for a job — ever — there is a simple reason you can’t expect more than an automated, “we received your application and will be in touch if your talents match our needs.”

Automated Reply
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

The problem lies in two places, both on the internet. Firstly, résumés submitted via a website are run through keyword filters and if you don’t hit all the keywords programmed into that search filter, your résumé will be deleted. Welcome to the Matrix!

The second problem is that we are using the internet, so merely receiving a pop-up, or page thanking us for applying— and promising to contact us if “your talents match our needs” is the new good manners. FLURG!

There are too many job seekers replying to the same employment ads. Machines have replaced humans and therefore, they feel no pain, no mercy, they keep on going until you are dead, and beyond.

My Advice: Don’t take it personally. Find other avenues such as your social media connections, friends or family (maybe your uncle was an army buddy of the company president’s father, and saved his life? Maybe he just knows the father used to sell pot and psychedelic mushrooms back in the ‘60s?). You get jobs through connections — and blackmail is a great motivator.

Does Your Résumé Rate a Response?

Having been in the position to go over a couple of thousand résumés for hiring people, I can honestly say that 90% of them can be immediately trashed. The first to go are people who just don’t have the experience, or glimmer of talent and promise. The second round are the people who get cute with their “goals” listed on their résumés.

Does Your Resume Stink?
Image credit: Bigstockphoto

Avoid these goal lines at all costs:

  1. “I want to make the world a better place, one design at a time!”
  2. “I want to make design a better place one world at a time!”
  3. “I’ve never studied design, but I love it with all my heart!”
  4. “I want to take over your job.”
  5. “To sleep with all the hotties in the office.”
  6. “My parole officer thinks working in design will keep me calm.”

My Advice: Actually, avoid all goals on your résumé as we all know your goal is to be hired and hopefully, work hard and well with the team.

Basic Email Manners

There’s lots of advice about how you should begin and end an email, such as “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr.______________:” and ending with “Sincerely” or Best Regards” but when it comes to email manners, not cursing and using passive-aggressive statements and actually answering an email seems to be the height of manners.

“Text-Speak” has also become acceptable by the general wave of webbies, now in positions where they must communicate with others. There’s nothing like the breakdown of an established national language (and international, for that matter) to help confuse people and create havoc with instructions and directions.

Image credit: Bigstockphoto

Avoid these common email mistakes:

  1. An email greeting of “Hi!”, “Hello Dear”, or “Heyyyyyy, Duuuuude!” are not acceptable until you are in a comfortable place with the person. Then just about anything goes, including sexual innuendos—or cybersex.
  2. When you write a response to an uncomfortable situation, put it in drafts and come back to it the following day. Better to make the recipient wait than to fear for their lives when you write that you will “wipe their seed from the face of the Earth.” People tend to misunderstand that old saying.
  3. With manners gone, that makes them all the more special. Use the best manners you can—the recipient will feel inferior and agog at your Hogwarts-like magical phrases, like “please” and “thank you.”
  4. Don’t give the client too much information in an email because they will get confused and strike out at you like a mother cheetah, protecting her kittens—or ducklings. I’ve seen that on the internet.
  5. Whenever possible, insert lines from the movie, “Caddyshack.” This is an international language all men understand. You won’t be able to deal with female clients, but there’s still less than a 50% chance of dealing with a woman anyway. Men will think you rock! Women will think you’re an idiot savant—and not the good kind.
  6. Curse out anyone who makes the slightest mistake, typo, or faux pas when they email you. I mean, really get down and dirty! You won’t get the project, and your family and friends will shun you, but it’s a strike for the hope of the English language and proper manners!

My Advice: No one reads anymore and the ability to comprehend any word longer than “LOL” is lost to the stars. Try sending memes with funny pictures and a snarky saying on it. Although this is only one step above grunting at each other to communicate, memes are obviously effective as I can attest from my Facebook feed. UNH!

When Did Manners Die?

People usually agree that the nicest person you know can become a sociopathic nightmare on the web. At some point, shortly after people accepted that sitting together at the dinner table and texting each other, much like the sickening Facebook love posts for someone that person should turn to and actually speak the words of love, manners, and their social importance LOL’d and RIP’d.

This is the price of the internet. When the power goes out and the wifi doesn’t function, we all freak. We don’t shrug and pick up a book, or have sex—even if alone—we start to actually sweat and feel anxiety. That’s not good. If you spend 3 hours a day surfing the net, 30 minutes tweeting and 1 hour posting pictures of your meals on Instagram, surely you could spend 15 minutes buying grandma a birthday card at the store?

The loss of human interaction, such as reading a résumé and looking for those little clues that the person is outstanding, and will round out a team, hurts not only society, but the individuals who inhabit it. We forget to smile when arguing politics, and religion with our friends on Facebook, and rarely thank them for their totally uninformed, moronic opinions.

Death of Manners
Image credit: Bigstockphoto


As sad as the breakdown in simple manners may be, always try to keep them up. People do appreciate when they are confronted by good manners, and usually reply in kind. If more people do it, then being turned down for employment, or told you’ll only get half of your fee will be so much more pleasant to hear.

Oh, and thank you for reading this article. Would you please be so kind to share this post with your wonderful social media connections? 😉

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