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Submitted by edurbin on


Can anyone tell me what Mark means when he says, "...because you'll see them again on the way back down."?

"Smile on the way up..." makes sense to me. Be kind and professional as you rise in rank. Remember the folks you worked with in your earlier roles. That's good advice.

But under what circumstances would one be "on the way back down"? Demotion? Moral failure? Retirement? Just needing a favor or support for initiatives?

brianr5's picture

  1. If your company re-organizes this could happen. Maybe they were engineering driven, now it's marketing driven. Maybe they decided to drop the product line you work in, or outsource your department's responsibilities.
  2. If your company is acquired this could happen. And will probably guarantee that #1 will occur.
  3. Layoffs... Even if your performance is outstanding, if you are on the wrong team, don't have the skills/experience for the new direction, or didn't maintain a network throughout the company, you may be out of luck.  
  4. Maybe you have a new boss (or your boss has a new boss) and they want to bring in their own people.  Your track record may not be known/valued by someone new.
mrreliable's picture

I heard this from my mom at a young age, with a slight twist. "Be nice to people on the way up, because you're going to meet the same people on the way down."

Don't be full of yourself and think you're better than other people even if you achieve success. Treat people with respect no matter what their station in life. That's was how I took the message.

From a practical standpoint, I recently stepped down from an executive position on a glide path toward retirement, and now I'm back in the trenches with people I supervised for years. I treated them nice on the way up, and now they're treating me nice on the way down.

Kevin1's picture

I've viewed this from a network perspective.  Whether later in this role, this company or some other company, you may well be in need of their support for any number of reasons.   You may have fallen out of favour.  Those people may have been promoted past you.  They may be interviewing you at another company.  you may be trying to push some new initiative and need their buy in.  etc.

If you haven't been 'nice' to them while you were rocketing up your career ladder, then there is much less chance of them wanting to help you out later on when you need their support.

There are, of course, other ways to interpret this that people have already mentioned.

Kind regards


edurbin's picture
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Thanks for replying. I understand now. It seems so simple when you all lay it out for me. It's basically anytime I have need of another person and have to rely on relationship. "On the way down" doesn't quite communicate that to me. Maybe I'll search for my own pithy version. Thanks again!

Kevin1's picture

How about simply 'Don't burn your bridges'.