If Ann Marie Sabath has her way, all human resources training programs will one day include "rudeness reduction." She owns At Ease Inc., a Cincinnati firm that offers a Miss Manners-style course for businesspeople. Bookings have jumped 34% in the last year, she claims, as companies look at employee behavior as ripe for improvement.
What do your clients hope to achieve through this class?
Our training assists professionals in recognizing what their prospects and clients consider to be rude. We're not talking about Emily Post extending her pinkie when lifting a glass of white wine. We're talking about why people do business with some organizations and avoid others.
What are some of your tips?
Regarding punctuality, we teach people that if you're early, you're on time, and if you're on time, in reality, you're late.
You focus on cell phones, too?
Yes. We encourage individuals to shut off their phones before walking into a building. All that beeping is noise pollution. And when using a cell phone in public, stand two arm's lengths away from others.
And your rules for e-mail?
Avoid acting like a frustrated e.e. cummings by keying in lowercase. That gives people the impression that you do not have enough time to focus on them. Also, spell-check and grammar-check should always be used. It's very easy to key "Anal" when "Alan" was meant.
Why are your sales growing?
I think managers feel like they have no choice but to play the role of professional parents--teaching employees how to dress, and how to interact. And does this have an impact on the bottom line? Yes, because people have more money than time.
Rod Kurtz is a staff writer at Inc. Magazine. This article was originally published in Inc.