At my first "real job" I was lucky enough to work directly for the VP who ran the entire firm. Along with the many things I learned from her was that you should treat everyone in business, equally. I started at the front desk and every time she was interviewing someone for a new position, she'd ask me what I thought about them. Most importantly, she asked about how they treated me and if they were polite and friendly as well.
Why was this important to her? Let me explain…
This was a huge factor in whether or not she thought they were a great fit for the company because how you treat the receptionist (a person who "doesn't matter") shows who you are as a person and how you'll behave at work. She would have the same process for our vendors, too.
Her wisdom about treating everyone equally:
1. Everyone really does Matter
From the busboy at a restaurant to the CEO of a Fortune 500, she truly believed everyone was a good person and should be treated as such. It wasn't only with her working world, but her philosophy extended beyond it.
2. You never know who you're talking to
Another important point is that you never know who you're talking to. You may think the person answering the phone is an assistant, but that rude remark could actually have been made to their manager instead. Office layouts have changed and CEO's and management now sit in the same areas as other employees. The corner corporate office is mostly a thing of the past, so it's hard to know who's who. (HINT: be careful!)
3. You never know where someone will go
You might be talking to the assistant but you never know if there is a promotion in the works or in the near future. Bad behavior will always be remembered, no matter who you talk to. Or worse–you're rude to the checkout lady who turns out the be your boss's wife or a friend of a friend. It's not worth it! Be nice and you'll never have to wonder if your snarky remark costs you an important connection or business opportunity.
-Sayeh, The Office Stylist