As professionals, particularly in a service business (I work at a mid-size PR agency in Manhattan), we are taught to treat colleagues, business associates, our bosses and most especially, clients, with the utmost respect. We are expected to use appropriate language, tone and greetings to each other. In general, the Golden Rule is supposed to apply.
But what happens when someone does not apply the rule? Or even worse, when a client begins to drift far away from treating others as he or she would like to be treated, and in that case, there can often be little that you can directly do to fix the problem?
This rant all came about from an interaction I had with recently with a business associate who appeared to be a bit perturbed about something, and rather than discussing the issue with me in a respectful tone, chose to tell me, “Dude, you can’t do that!” I, obviously, did not take well to this. I would never disrespect anyone in the workplace that way, so at the very least, afford me the respect of calling me by my name.
Simply put: Don’t call me “dude.” Ever. Well, at least not in a business setting, and especially if you are a client, and therefore, I technically work for you. I’m sorry, but unless we have known each other for at least 2-3 years and have had out-of-office conversations about things OTHER than your company, I do not appreciate the lack of respect that you, or anyone else I meet in a business setting, shows me when you sink to calling me “dude.”
That’s just plain rude, and frankly, completely inappropriate in a business setting. It implies that I do not know what I’m talking about, or that in some way, you are above me, as I must be some minion with a minor role to play in your quest for total world domination.
Yes, I may only be 24, and maybe I don’t have those 20 years of experience that you have. But in my mind, that does not give you any right to treat me like anything less than a competent employee. Anything less than that is simply unacceptable. I’m not asking for the world here; I’m not asking to be treated like I’m the president of my company, when obviously, I’m not. All I am asking is that I be given the respect that we all deserve in the workplace.
I brought up this problem to my friend, Katie Ottavio (@KOttavio) recently, and she had some great advice for how we can all address this situation in the future:
People don’t get the idea (they should!) that you get respect if you give me respect (common thing we are all taught in grade school).
If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. I’m mature and can handle a few disagreements. Heck, those even help to cultivate new ideas and innovation in some cases. But in order for that to happen, we need to talk about the situation in a respectful manner, and each side needs to work hard to move forward. Calling me “dude” does nothing to achieve this goal.
I would rather always be moving forward. Let’s all work hard to move forward in every dialogue we have.
Keith Trivitt is an Account Executive at RLM Public Relations in New York City. Fascinated by running and the next big thing in marketing and public relations, he is also one of the founding bloggers at PRBreakfastClub.