I recently learned of a unique hiring test conducted by the CEO of Charles Schwab. In an effort to understand the true character of each candidate, Walt Bettinger, Charles Schwab CEO, interviews them over breakfast at a restaurant. But unbeknownst to the prospect, Mr. Bettinger tells the restaurant ahead of time to mess up their order. The purpose? To reveal the heart of the candidate along with their ability to handle challenges. When presented with the wrong food, do they become frustrated or angry? Do they lash out at the server? Or are they able to take the situation in hand and act graciously?
Manners are much more than knowing which fork to use or how to properly shake hands. Manners are a hallmark of a civil society. When manners are absent, boundaries begin to vanish, people don’t feel respected, and civility starts to break down. The rituals of etiquette help to establish civility. As P.M. Forni shared in his classic work, Choosing Civility, “Manner comes from manus, the Latin word for hand. We have good manners when we use our hands well, when we handle others with care.” Our manners reveal how we view the world—with either everything revolving around us at the center, or with us as just a cog in a bigger wheel where everything we say and do has an impact on others.
Social graces can be learned. Character can be harder to teach. But a good place to start is by learning basic etiquette. Then, when the spotlight is on, you’ll know exactly what to do and can do it with respect and grace. Good manners are good for business—and they might just get you that job!
© Jill Bremer 2016