How To Show Professional Courtesy

Professional courtesy is important in every sector. While these courtesies may change slightly from one sector to another, the intention behind each action is often the same. Carpenters, doctors, and chefs all extend professional courtesy to each other, to some extent.

Professional courtesy is not limited to these sectors. Almost every field has some form of professional courtesy.

In theater, actors directors, writers, and other stakeholders can sometimes attend performances for free or at a discount. This is one way of showing professional courtesy.

How Do You Show Professional Courtesy?

Professional courtesy often involves providing a discount on services to people in the same profession as you. For example, doctors will often offer a discount to other doctors. Many of them even provide their services free to other doctors.

Professional courtesy is not limited to the healthcare sector. Many other professionals offer discounted services to people who are in the same field. Carpenters may offer a discount to other carpenters whenever they’re building something for them.

Professional courtesy also isn’t limited to money. Some healthcare professionals may not be able to adjust the fees that they charge because those are set by the organization that they work for. However, they show professional courtesy in other ways, such as by providing extra follow-up or attention to other healthcare workers. They go the extra mile for other healthcare workers because they know that medical professionals go the extra mile for their patients.

Is Professional Courtesy a Trade?

Professional courtesy is not a trade. It’s not a situation where a lawyer will only give additional benefits to other lawyers if they know those lawyers would do the same for them.

In most cases, people who show professional courtesy do so regardless of the level of benefits that they can or cannot receive from the recipient. It’s important to avoid any appearance of only offering professional courtesy to people who can do the same for you.

Partiality can hurt your field. This type of trade can lead to your sector being perceived as corrupt. If you’re showing professional courtesy to one person in your field, it’s good to show it to everyone in your sector.

It can even get you in trouble if it’s seen as a way to subtly commit fraud. For example, if you give free service to another professional to receive Medicare referrals, it can be seen as insurance fraud, especially in the healthcare sector in the United States. [1]

Is Professional Courtesy Mandatory?

Professional courtesy is not mandatory. It’s always left to the discretion of a professional. No one is required by law to provide a special deal to people who are in their field.

However, people all over the world exercise professional courtesy. They’re usually happy to do so because they understand exactly what the other person experiences daily. They’re pleased to be in a position where they can help someone who experiences the same stressors that they do.

Can You Ask Someone to Extend Professional Courtesy to You?

It’s okay to ask in most circumstances. If someone doesn’t immediately offer a discount to another person in the same field, the person who’s requesting the service may ask for a small discount or another courtesy. It’s not usually frowned upon.

However, you should always carefully consider the situation first. For example, it’s not usually a good idea to ask for this type of courtesy if someone is just starting with their business. At that point, they’re usually experiencing financial struggles and other limitations which can make it difficult for them to provide free offers.

The same individuals may be more willing to extend courtesy to you when their business is more established and they’re more financially stable. With young businesses, it’s generally expected that more established professionals will show professional courtesy by providing connections, mentorship, and lending a helping hand in other ways.

Also, some people are not as willing to give because that’s just their nature. You can assess a person based on how they treat you and their patients and determine whether they would be willing to extend this type of courtesy to you.

Why Is Professional Courtesy Important?

Professional courtesy is important for several reasons. For one it helps to eliminate the problem of professionals offering service to themselves. For example, when doctors exercise professional courtesy they prevent doctors from treating themselves and their families.

When a loved one is ill, it places doctors under stress because they’re very close to the situation. It is sometimes difficult for them to maintain the level of objectivity that they need to make tough decisions. To avoid this problem, other doctors will often show professional courtesy by offering care to the doctor, their family, or their staff. (2)

Similarly, when lawyers exercise professional courtesy, they’re prevented from having to represent themselves in court. If a tour operator shows professional courtesy to another tour operator by taking care of some aspect of their tour for free, the recipient can enjoy a holiday fully and can feel treated to something relaxing.

Professional courtesy is important because it helps to establish strong connections among members of a particular field. This is especially true when professional courtesy is extended to all members of that sector regardless of their years of experience or the possible impact that they can have on another person’s business.

Showing goodwill to others never hurts relationships in the long term. Professional courtesy helps to build a sense of community. It shows business people that they’re not alone and can even lead to genuine friendships over the years.

Is Professional Courtesy Something New?

Professional courtesy isn’t something new. As long as people have been in business, they’ve always offered special deals to those who are in the same sector. It’s so well established as a practice that jokes are even made about it.





Katie Haynes is a senior author at with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.

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