The Ten Foot Rule. And Why You Must Be Using It

A Smile. A Wave. A Hello.

That’s all it takes.

To make a difference. A visual difference. A visible difference.

One of the things I’m constantly reminding my clients to encourage and use in their offices is what one of my colleagues calls “The Ten Foot Rule”.

Put simply, The Ten Foot Rule means that whenever another living breathing human being is within ten feet of us, we *MUST* acknowledge their presence.

Every time.

Every time.

With either a Smile, or a Wave, or a Hello.

No exceptions.

There are many reasons for this.

The first reason is to simply acknowledge the presence of the other person. The fact that they are there. And you have seen them. Simple common courtesy.

The process of acknowledgement, of recognition of the fact that they are there, is an opportunity to bring some joy to that other person.

Like I said, it’s just common courtesy.

I’ve often said, when we meet someone, we *don’t* know what’s been going on in their day.

At all.

So what gives us the right to be anything but nice to them?

And that’s what a Smile, a Wave, a Hello is.

It’s a chance to be nice.

In the least.

The reason I encourage, no the reason I demand this behaviour in my staff and in the staff and team members of my clients is because you never know who’s watching and observing…

Think about it.

Two team members, in too much of a hurry, walk past each other in the Dental Office Corridor as if the other person isn’t even there.

Sure, they may both be on a mission….. but what if a customer or client observes this behaviour? What would that client think of each team member?

What would that client think of that Dental Office?

Flip that scenario over…. a client observes two team members passing in the corridor. The client sees the team members smile, and raise a hand to wave. The client sees a wave back, and a return smile.

What do you think the client thinks about that Dental Office now?

It’s pretty obvious there is a difference to be seen, and the benefits of having the more courteous behaviour seen, just to the business, are significant.

Similarly, the client gets uplifted in spirit just from the act of observing this courteous behaviour.

There is no doubt.

I’ve been a walker now for about four years. Serious walker. And before that I was a cyclist, until I came to my senses.

As a cyclist, and as a walker, there is camaraderie amongst fellow cyclists and walkers. It’s an unwritten law, or edict, to acknowledge the presence of your fellow exerciser.

Now recently I’ve been walking in two different locales.

I walk in the leafy streets near my city home. And also around the streets near my rural property.

Near the farm, you rarely see another person on an early walk. Only a handful. And about the same number of cars. In a one hour, even a two hour walk.


In the country, I greet every fellow walker. It’s just common courtesy.

Interestingly, in the country, a wave to drivers of oncoming vehicles always results in a return wave.


Despite the fact that it’s often difficult due to windscreen reflection, to see the face of the driver. But it’s never difficult to feel and see the return wave.

Now down in the city it’s different. And getting more and more different.

Even in my close little leafy community, there’s a shift towards non-wavers, and non-smilers.

Which is absolutely weird.

I just don’t understand the reasoning.

Because what does the non-waver do when they see that other person walking the next week? Or the next day? Or in my case, often, on the next street? [When you see my walking route, you’ll see I cover a lot of streets!!]


It just makes no sense.

Yet there are people who go out of their way to deliberately non-acknowledge. To ignore.

To pretend they are invisible.

Or pretend that you don’t exist….

Again, I’m not sure of the logic or the mechanism or the processes that go on in the mind s of the deliberate non-acknowledgers.

But get this, putting it simply or bluntly, if you fail to acknowledge another person, if you fail to observe The Ten Foot Rule, then you aren’t a fit for World Class Customer Service.


So by failing to stick your hand up, you’re actually sticking your hand up…

Because failing to acknowledge is rude.

And I’ll take nice over rude any day…


The Ten Foot Rule is just one of the many protocols and procedures you will learn about in The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at

Did you like this blog article? If you did then hit the share buttons below and share it with your friends and colleagues. Share it via email, Facebook and twitter!!