Common Courtesy

Recently, a friend and I were discussing common courtesy and etiquette in terms of meetings, coffee dates, lunches, etc. She is was avidly on the hunt for a job. She lamented that through the stressful process of job hunting she has been stood up, emails not returned and sometimes, silence, just crickets.

It’s up and down and no doubt, frustrating. She’s smart. She knows that people get busy, but isn’t there a common courtesy to let someone know you’re going to miss your meeting, you’re busy but promise to get back to them within a few weeks when things settle down or rather, be upfront and say you simply can’t meet with them. I would rather the truth than silence and wonderment.

I’ve been stood up before when someone e-mailed me to meet and ask for my advice (more than once), so I lamented with my friend.

This one story however, is a positive one that I want to share:

I frequently meet with friends, professional contacts and friends of friends – you know, the network. This summer, as I’ve really settled into my life here and feel I have a community and a network, I have found myself being e-mailed and put in contact more than ever to “meet.”

These meetings are a mixture of, “help me,” “I need some advice,” “I would love to meet you,” or “How do you blog?” I usually opt for an early coffee meeting, before I start my full-time job and occasionally a more intimate with lunch and/or drinks.

As I was thinking about the common courtesy in meeting with people a friend of a friend asked to meet for coffee. I obliged happily. We’ve interacted before and she is close friends with many of my close friends (yet, we hadn’t spent time together one-on-one). We met for coffee and collaborated on learning more about her recent online startup -ideas flowed to me, I had fun and the hour flew by.

After I felt energized from our interesting conversation and excited to put her in touch with some people in my network that should be able to help her, I was sitting at my desk working when a beautiful vase of flowers were delivered to me.

I gaped, wide-eyed.

I opened the card and it just said, “Thank you for the ideas!” They were from her.

Such a simple gesture, but it meant so much to me and literally brightened my day. Although she didn’t need to do anything to make our chat/meeting worth my while, she definitely went above and beyond as a gracious person who also said, if she can ever help me, (her network, her ideas) she would. Just say the word. I know she’s telling the truth.

It’s mutually beneficial. Sometimes we help each other, sometimes you’re helped and I feel like both should happen. I have to be careful of how much time and energy I’m devoting away from my projects, my sleep, my time (without detracting from what I’m focusing on and doing full-time) so I can’t even always say “yes” although I strive to. BUT – I do know that creative interactions, gracious thanking, a new friend made and a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me to look at while I work, are worth it.

What about you? Do you find a positive interaction from people willing to help you? Or are they rude? How do you balance – as the e-mailer or the one doing the helping and meeting?

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