Missed Manners

Politeness pays.
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Politeness pays.

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

If you don't have time to ponder Emily Post, these three quick etiquettelessons should keep you from making major gaffes:

1. In the social world, age and gender are still the primary factors thatinfluence etiquette, but in the business world, they're not. On Planet Biz,everything depends on deference to the pecking order.

2. Leave etiquette instruction to the professionals. If you're not being paidto tell someone he or she is ill-mannered, it's considered rude to correct orcomment on his or her behavior.

3. Even if you're not always sure about your manners, you'll probably be OK ifyou remember this basic guideline: Etiquette is based on self-respect as wellas respect for others.