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Missed Manners

Politeness pays.

This story appears in the May 1999 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

In 1530, the philosopher Erasmus veered from his day job of instilling classical scholarship in his students to write instead about table manners. Instructing young people on the art of dining, he spouted such gems as: "Some people put their hands in the dishes the moment they [sit] down. Wolves do that." Centuries later, when we sit down to a fancy place setting or try to navigate the rules of etiquette during an important business lunch or dinner, we still seem to be afraid of becoming the big bad wolf.

Although manners may have declined in the past few decades, lately there's been renewed interest in propriety and protocol, especially in the business realm. Rosanne Thomas sees a steadily increasing influx of clients--mostly young future executives sent by their employers--at her Boston company, Protocol Advisors Inc., which provides etiquette and protocol training to both individuals and companies.

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