I have two kids in MBA School and I am dismayed that they do not teach corporate manners.
Good manners is not just about using the right fork or keeping your elbows off of the table, but there is no question that refined manners are noticed, and only a polished professional will climb the corporate ladder.
Corporate protocol exists for a good reason, and the rules of good manners in the corporate world are not always trivial or simple common sense.
One area that people have forgotten is business travel manners and protocols.
Business travel quiz
Try this corporate travel quiz. Assume the following people waiting for a taxi cab:
Person A – A male ECO
Person B – A female director
Person C – A male management trainee
- In what order to they enter the taxi?
- Who pays the tab and expenses the ride?
See the last link on this page for the answer.
Most young women learn gracious manners in Cotillion or Finishing school, and young gentlemen often learn manners in military officer’s school or they take a manners course when they are hired as a manager.
When I got my first corporate job out of MBA School, they flew their latest hires to New York for an intensive two-day class on how to be a proper lady/gentleman corporate executive!
I have my own rules for corporate etiquette, manners more befitting the 21st century business professional.
All of my managers know proper corporate manners, and it’s indispensible when meeting with clients because “good breeding” shows, and boorish manners are unprofessional, to say the least!
Here are two areas of manners where I see young people failing:
Corporate party manners
When at a corporate party, it’s considered extremely rude to leave the party until the senior person at the party has departed. In turn, the senior managers display gracious manners by deliberately excusing themselves early so that their underlings are free to depart.
Corporate travel manners
Business travel has not changed much in the last 200 years, and the basic rules of rank and deference to women still distinguish a true professional from a hippie. The old saying “the position of honor is on the right”, still applies to business travel today, just as it did 200 years ago:
The best position on a coach is on the right
For the answer to my quiz, see my full notes here on Corporate travel manners and business travelling protocol.