Mom was right: Manners count. Nearly 60% of professionals say they'll take their business elsewhere if treated rudely, according to employee-training firm Eticon Inc. One consultancy lost a $30 million contract after an executive licked his knife at the table, reports etiquette consultant Barbara Pachter. Ultimately, manners mean business.
CASE IN POINT: Carol Poyner, office manager at Midlands Surgical Associates in Columbia, S.C., noticed that some of her staff had less-than-reassuring habits--such as abruptly putting patients on hold. So Poyner sent her 10-person staff to a pair of etiquette workshops. Now, patients are offered something to drink when they arrive. If they face a long wait, the staff lets them know--and volunteers to reschedule the appointment. Poyner says some patients have told her the staff now is so kind that they "don't even mind waiting."
-- Tips on business etiquette abound on Etiquette International's Web site (www.etiquetteintl.com.) The company also holds bimonthly workshops in New York ($750 a day per participant).
-- Find advice for every imaginable business situation in Emily Post's The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, by Peggy Post and Peter Post (1999, Harper Resource, $35). The book has tips on everything from name-tag etiquette (it goes on the right side of your chest, about four inches below the shoulder) to how to handle a compliment gracefully (a simple "thank you" will suffice).
-- Finally, there's Manners Minutes, an audiotape compilation of etiquette tips. Four tapes, 24 minutes a side, $39.95. (803) 736-1934, www.eticon.com.