Be gracious to everyone you meet because you never know when you are entertaining an angel

Be gracious to everyone you meet because you never know when you are entertaining an angel

The great civil rights leader, Whitney Young, said It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared for it. That is, you should strive to create a positive and lasting impression in every interaction you have, especially with those who may provide just the right insight to assist you in achieving a career goal. As the apostle Paul suggested: You should Be gracious to everyone you meet, because you never know when you are entertaining an angel.”


First impressions: A famous ad once cautioned, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. One of the first steps that athletes can take is to learn how to prepare for meetings–even those that are unexpected–is to look at themselves through the eyes of a business professional and to ask: How would the ideal student-athlete behave in this situation?


Two fundamental rules will help guide you: the golden rule and the platinum rule.


The golden rule: The golden states that you should treat others as you would want to be treated if you switched places with them.


For example, if someone were to invite you to share a meal at a restaurant, he or she might observe how you treat the server and other restaurant workers as an indicator of your character and as a predictor of how you might treat others on the job. So smiling and establishing eye contact with the restaurant staff, listening to the server attentively without interruption, and complimenting the service and the food would all suggest you would make a positive and agreeable co-worker.


The platinum rule: The platinum rule states that you should treat others as they would want to be treated.   This requires that you analyze the situation and predict what the other person might consider polite behavior. Seeing you as a healthy, physically fit athlete, for example, older or physically impaired people might expect you to open a door for them while younger, physically fit persons might not. Or you might demonstrate the high energy expected of athletes and politeness at the same time by acting to be the first person to reach a door, opening it for people coming in the opposite direction and continuing to hold it until your entire party passes through.


In essence, following the golden and platinum rules are excellent guides that will allow you to create the kinds of positive impressions that are key to people wanting to help you achieve your career goals.




  1. If your coach asked you to attend a meeting at which top alumni contributors were attending, what might they expect you to say about your school, your coach, and your team to meet their highest expectations of a student-athlete?


  1. How might you prepare for competition in a foreign country to show you respect the language and cultural traditions of your hosts?


tclark administrator

Thomas Clark, PhD, President of CommuniSkills and Professor of Management at Xavier University, has been a writing and oral communication consultant for a wide variety of businesses including Procter & Gamble, “the business writing capital of the world,” where he has led over 500 business communication workshops. He has also taught workshops for other Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Microsoft, Nestle, AK Steel, General Cable, Mars Petcare and Kellogg. He has published three books on business communication and one on career strategies. He has been honored with two Teacher of the Year awards at Xavier, and The US Small Business Administration has recognized him with three national awards for teaching excellence in the field of entrepreneurship. He earned his doctorate at Indiana University and is certified as an instructor in both Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability. Richard Zaunbrecher, BChE, MBARichard Zaunbrecher, BSChE, MBA, Vice President and Director of Communiskills’ Boston office, has a diverse background that allows him to understand and give constructive feedback on a broad range of business communication issues. He first learned sound business communication principles at Procter & Gamble, the business communication capital of the world. He has worked with CommuniSkills for 25 years and has taught both oral and written communication skills to a variety of businesses including Microsoft, Safeway, P&G dos Brazil, Gillette, AliCorp, Credit Suisse First Boston, Coca-Cola, Citibank, Viacom, Clorox, KPMG, General Electric, Union Central Insurance, Clarica, Allstate, and Prudential Insurance.

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