I was brought up believing that 'manners maketh the man', and I agree with this wholeheartedly. Having really good manners has certainly got me a long way in life and whilst there are many things that didn't sink in during my childhood, the importance of great manners was not one of them. But are good manners important for doing business?

I'm constantly surprised by the number of times people, women in particular, comment about how nice it is to have someone open a door for them, or stand up when they come to a table, or offer to carry something heavy. And yes, I think that having great manners is a very good thing in social situations, however I think it is vital in business situations, particularly when we are living in a world where manners seem to be declining, or simply evolving.

Now I know that saying this can make me sound like a grumpy old man, pointing his finger at those young hipsters and complaining that they don't have manners, but I don't really think it is an age thing at all. I meet lots of wonderful people of all ages who are incredibly respectful and polite, with beautiful manners and I always notice and compliment them.

I love doing business with people like this and I'm guessing I'm not alone. In fact I know I'm not alone simply because people say the exact thing to me all the time. So as an entrepreneur, having great manners is not just nice, it is clearly good for business. In fact I would go so far as to say when I think of the most successful business owners I know, each and every one of them has really good manners.

It really isn't that hard to be polite, or to have good manners, you just need to know what to do. To help out, here are my top 20 manners. I use them in every situation, business or social.

  1. When saying 'thank you' to someone, stop what you are doing, look them in the eye and then thank them.
  2. When you get to a table, let the lady sit first.
  3. When ordering, let the lady or your other guests order first - then make your own order.
  4. Pre-arrange to pay the bill at a restaurant so there are no awkward arguments over payment.
  5. Always stand up when a lady stands up.
  6. Offer to carry anything that is heavy or inconvenient for a lady.
  7. Always let a lady walk in front of you when going through a doorway.
  8. When walking down a pathway be between the road and the lady (to protect her).
  9. Always open a door for a lady (car door, building door, any door).
  10. Wait for everyone to get their food before you start eating.
  11. Use the word 'please' when asking for something.
  12. Don't talk over someone else.
  13. Don't interrupt someone who is in the middle of saying something.
  14. If you are running late, always call ahead to let the person know. When you are arrive, apologize.
  15. If you can't deliver on something you have promised, call ahead of time to let the person know.
  16. If someone does something nice or unexpected for you, always thank them.
  17. If you've made a mistake say sorry quickly and sincerely.
  18. If someone says 'no' to you, perhaps in regard to buying your product or service, always be appreciative that they considered your offering.
  19. When you cough, cover your mouth.
  20. Be respectful - to everyone.