ZigOn Manners

As youngsters, my mother taught her children that while we might not be the smartest people around, we could be courteous, polite and considerate of others. We were taught to say "please," "thank you," "yes, Sir," "yes, Ma'am," not to talk with food in our mouths, and a few other little niceties of life.

Now there are some indications that manners are on the way back "in"--just in time! In 1996 a survey revealed that 78% of Americans believed incivility had gone from bad to worse in the preceding ten years, and many believed it had eroded values and contributed to violence in our society. Today many companies are sponsoring workshops to teach professional etiquette and protocol in the market place. Reports abound that job candidates are turned down if they begin eating before their host does, and salt food before tasting it, because it shows a tendency toward making hasty decisions. Those who order the most expensive items on the menu and conclude with an expensive dessert are generally not offered jobs for fear they will abuse an expense account.

Obviously, much of this involves common sense as much as manners, but it really boils down to thinking in terms of what's in the other person's best interests. When we think that way we act that way, and invariably what's in the other person's best interests from a business perspective turns out to be in our best interests as well.

Studies by Harvard, the Stanford Research Institute and the Carnegie Foundation suggest that success in a job depends 85% on people skills and only 15% on technical knowledge and skill. In the market place today people who have the right attitude and work with others effectively, are in the most demand and occupy the higher positions. Message: Use commons sense and mind your manners.

. . . Adapted from Zig's book Staying Up, Up, Up In A Down, Down World. Look for a copy at your favorite bookstore.