Cavuto: Never underestimate the power of a slight

Never underestimate the power of a slight.

Ignoring someone at a restaurant. Or not returning someone's call. Or not looking into your boss's eyes when he's talking to you.

They've all come up as very damning "don'ts" I've seen for myself in just the last week.

A CEO friend of mine who was miffed that an employee he had to reprimand ignored him at a restaurant some days later. "I thought it was beyond childish," he told me. "And I just can't look at him the same way."

Still another colleague of mine who relayed to her biggest pet peeve are people who don't return her calls. "I return theirs," she says, "it's only common courtesy they do the same."

Or the job applicant ultimately denied the position, not because he wasn't qualified, but because during the interview, he never looked into the interviewer's eyes.

I was that interviewer. But don't think me a jerk.

Because if I am, I guess I've got lots of company.

Because contrary to what you might have heard, life really is defined not by how we handle the big things, but whether we get the little things.

Like a firm handshake. Returning a call. Doing what you say you're going to do. And yes, looking into someone's eyes as they're talking to you.

I tend to think that in this ultra-competitive business world in which we live, most of us share the same basic qualifications. Most of us work hard and most do our homework.

Where some slip up is missing the everyday life work. Too busy climbing that we forget we are more judged by our very being.

Impressions count. And making a bad first one can do lasting damage.

Some say this is very unfair.

Such is life.

Forgetting that little stuff matters misses the things that define life.

Because nearing the end of life, few of us will recall how worldly a colleague or family member was, but we will remember how kind they were.

How responsive they were. How real they were.

We will remember the person who called out of the blue just to check up. Or the worker with the ridiculously positive attitude who got the assignment done early and with a smile.

They say we are defined by the company we keep.

But what's left out is who makes up that company we keep longer.

Usually people who make us happy and make us fulfilled.

There are no Ivy League degrees for this kind of stuff.

In fact I've known many with Ivy League degrees who don't even get this stuff.

That doesn't mean that schmucks don't get ahead in life.

It means they never get life.

Or what we ultimately remember as the standout moments and people in our lives.

Those who smiled and meant it, worked hard and their work proved it, cared much and their passion showed it. Not indifferent just different.

My attitude, I saw drop the attitude.

I tell my kids all the time life is short, go long.

Aim for big things, but remember the little things.

Or as my Italian dad used to say, stay humble.

Because the folks you're climbing past on that ladder in life are the very same ones you're going to bump into as you start coming down.

And boy, they're going remember if you stepped on them going up.