They say that we all turn into our parents eventually. I don't know about that but, as the grey hairs multiply, I do find myself coming out with things that, to the people around me, seem to confirm my inevitable transformation into one of Terry Wogan's TOGs (Terry's Old Geezers).

But is it really just me? One of the things that seems to be getting progressively worse and an issue that constantly frustrates me is the general lack of manners and professional courtesy in business.

The number of people who simply do not return telephone calls is amazing. Now I am a salesman, my glass is always overflowing. I've spent most of my life dealing with UK supermarkets so I've developed the rhino-like skin you need to succeed in that arena. I understand that lots of people just don't like to take unsolicited calls for products or services and that a sales call can break into an otherwise busy day and be very frustrating. I accept that it's part of the job to call a number of times and leave numerous messages before a client or candidate rings me back - but not when they've called me in the first place and I'm returning their call!

I know that many of us are busy and under pressure, but it costs very little to return a call, particularly from someone you know and especially when it could possibly save or even make you money. Even if you disagree with someone's point of view or need to say no to a proposal, you can be firm and businesslike - there's never any excuse for bad manners. And what about emails? Bill Gates must be wondering why his guys at Microsoft ever bothered spending time developing that read receipt thing. Does anyone ever click the 'yes' box? I know that over the years we have all at some time been inundated by junk emails and spam. In just the past two weeks I personally have won the Spanish lottery and had an email from a very nice Nigerian lady whose husband has died and left me a fortune. However, most of us are savvy enough to spot the rogues. So when you get an email from someone, you know it really doesn't take much to send a reply just to let them know that you actually received it and you'll address the issue at some point.

Good manners and professional courtesy don't cost anything. We all have lots of pressures on our time. Whether times are good or bad, whether your credit's being crunched or you're riding the crest of a wave, in my experience most successful businesspeople are also good relationship builders and one of the things that makes for a successful long-term business relationship is respect. So please make an effort to return those calls - you never know what you might be missing.

Guy Moreton is director of recruitment practitioner MorePeople.