Manners are becoming a lost art but they are a sign of professionalism and respect and will go a long way toward increasing your chances in business and the professional world.
Here are 12 manners to adopt as a regular habit:
1. Use a surname with Mr., Sir, Ms., Miss or Mrs.
No matter how well you know a person, addressing him or her as Mr. or Mrs. shows respect and says you are there to serve. No matter how many times the customer says, "call me Jim," it never hurts to continue with Mr. or Mrs.
2. Use “yes, sir" and "no, sir."
We have become a culture with almost a complete disregard for formality. But when people are buying a product or service, their position should be elevated regardless of their age. As buyers, they are in an authority position. You are not equals and “yes, sir” and “no, sir” confirms that you know that.
3. Say, "It's my pleasure.”
Rather than responding to a customer request with “no problem,” an enthusiastic "it's my pleasure" shows your willingness to assist.
4. Offer, "thank you for your time."
Remember time is valuable. Thanking customers for their attention at the start and the end of an interaction shows appreciation, empathy, and understanding. Never say, "I don't want to waste your time or mine." Your time is not important. Their time is.
5. Don’t interrupt.
People serving a customer often make the mistake of listening to respond but not to understand. Make understanding the priority. Interrupting is a sign of disrespect and never improves a relationship.
6. Provide a full acknowledgement.
Before responding to customers about anything, give them a full acknowledgement by replicating their remarks along the lines of "Thank you for telling me that and I agree with you." Just listening without doing so might prompt a buyer to feel unheard and disrespected.
7. Be present.
Texting, answering calls, or doing other tasks while serving a customer is not multitasking. It's multi-rudeness and will cost you multimillions. Give the person standing before your full engagement.
8. Say thank you. Then add thank you and thank you again!
You can never thank customers enough. Use every medium possible to show thanks. Text the person 10 seconds after the exchange, then call, email, and say again in person thank you. Following that up with a handwritten note is the most powerful way to demonstrate thanks. The message "I just want to tell you again how much I appreciate you as a customer" is a powerful written statement.
9. Don't leave out “Excuse me."
This is just simple common sense. If you’re reaching in front of someone or moving into his or her physical space, acknowledge this by saying, "excuse me." It’s respectful. Also, if you enter a room while people are talking, this is a polite way to be acknowledged and have your question answered quickly.
10. Hold the door open.
Never be the first person to walk through a doorway. Hold the door for all people no matter their position. Mannered people are responsible people who look for opportunities to be decent to their fellow humans. Holding a door for a stranger is an act of kindness.
11. Try saying, “I’ll be happy to find the answer for you.”
It's unprofessional to say, "I don't know." Also, it's bad manners to say this even if it's true. "I don't know" could sound like you don't care. Respond with “Great question. I will find out for you.” This demonstrates a willingness to serve customers and answer their questions.
12. Add, “It's an honor to work with you.”
Go out of your way to show appreciation and make customers feel important. If you can't communicate this notion with sincerity, have someone else work with this customer.
Manners are not just something your parents thought were important nor are they some outdated social protocol. In the world of money and economics, great manners are rewarded and bad manners are punished. Watch the people earning big money and you will see how they make business manners a regular habit.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com . Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.