Respect: The Ultimate Business Etiquette

ultimate business etiquette

Your Business Blogger is noticing a most disturbing trend in small and large business clients. The younger employees do not, it appears, render proper subservience and groveling to their elder-better bosses. This disturbs my sense of order and entitlement.

Is good ol’ fashioned bootlicking dead?

As I traverse cubicle farms across the fruited plain, I see entry-level drones who toil away. Plowing as straight a furrow as any dependable farm hand. Yet these hayseeds have yet to learn manners.

In the US of A the worker bees would continue typing and mousing away when the boss and Your Observant Consultant would wander by and stand at the cube entrance. The employee’s eyes would remain on the monitor — ears open to the boss — listening, we were told, to the manager’s every instruction. The young employee would call this “multi-tasking.”

I call it rude.

The Ultimate Business Etiquette

I compare this ‘dis’ trend to the contrast of the warm glow Your Business Blogger would routinely feel when consulting in India. Whenever the business owner entered a room… all work would cease. All would stand.

Then the boss would magnanimously, graciously invite the employees to be seated and resume their work.

Of course, no one moved. Until the owner left the room.

(There’s a lot to be said for the kiss up, kick down management style of the sub-continent.)

In India the employees would stand up. In North America the employees don’t even look up.

The US Army, as usual, gets it right when dealing with rank:

  • The senior never thinks of it.
  • The junior never forgets it.

Whenever soldiers would cross paths, the junior would acknowledge the senior. If one is an officer the junior will salute the senior. And the senior will return the courtesy.

The private businesses that never had employees who were privates in the Army, think and behave as if everyone is equal.


There is far too much of this egalitarian nonsense in our culture. Much of it comes from the academy, where most nonsense originates.

At the University of Virginia where Charmaine, my wife, earned her doctorate, the instructors are addressed as “Mister.” Not “Doctor.” Mr. Jefferson was a fan of fraternite and Voltaire and all things French.

Egalite run amuck.

But the manager and the astute, ambitious young woman, understanding the spirit of the times, knows that nothing changes in the human spirit. We all want to be appreciated. Even the boss:

  • So the young future leader desiring to be a stand out, will stand up when the boss enters.
  • The young man will stand up when a lady enters the room.
  • The employee with integrity will take a stand.  A stand-up guy.

And everyone will accuse him of apple-polishing.  But he will soon fill those boots everyone thought he was a-licking.

This article is tongue-in-cheek, but has an important point:  the ultimate in business etiquette is respect.  Those who give respect, will get respect. We all crave respect.  It is a fact of the human condition.

Jack Yoest John Wesley (Jack) Yoest Jr., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America. His expertise is in management training and development, operations, sales, and marketing. Professor Yoest is the president of Management Training of DC, LLC. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and with various stints as a corporate executive, he also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in the Administration of Governor James Gilmore of Virginia.