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Politeness. It's still cool.

Good manners are something that never go out of style, and while what constitutes “good manners” can vary widely between cultures (and yes, can even go out of style), the idea is always appropriate. Treating others with courtesy and respect is something that will never lead you wrong. As Clarence Thomas once said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”


Remember this advice—it will serve you well during your job search and beyond. That person you made a rude gesture at in traffic on the way to your interview could possibly be the person you are going to meet. Did you smile and thank the receptionist who greeted you? If not, be sure that your new potential boss will hear about it.


Good manners are like any other skill. They take knowledge and practice to perfect. Unfortunately, bad manners are a difficult thing to diagnose, because very few people deliberately choose to be rude. One way to prepare for the corporate world is to make sure that good manners become a natural part of your life. Let your friends and family know you are working on them, and ask for their help. Ask them to remind you when you fail to say “Please”, or “Thank You”. Taking the time to master the little things can make your job search (and job!) easier and more productive.


A list of basics:

  • Please, thank you, and excuse me. It’s amazing how under-used these words are. Use them, and use them often!

  • Reciprocate. We get so used to “How are you?” being a polite nothing that we forget that it has a response. “I’m fine, thank you. And you?”

  • Don’t interrupt people when they are speaking. Even when you think you know what someone is going to say, let them say it.

  • Respect personal distance. This varies widely between cultures and individuals. Simply be aware of others’ reactions. If a person takes a step back, don’t take a step forward. Allow them to adjust the distance between you.

  • Request, don’t demand. If you need something, remember to phrase it as a polite request. “Would you please do this?” will get your farther than “Do this.”

  • I’m sorry! Possibly the most important words in the English language. A genuine apology when something goes wrong is worth a thousand excuses.


Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. - Emily Post

About the author

Laura Little

Laura Little previously worked at the ECS front desk.