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Learning to Appreciate the Finer Things in Life

It started with a professor telling our MBA class that we'd better learn how to play golf. Golf, he proclaimed, was a necessity once you've penetrated the higher ranks of an organization.

A week or so later, we found out that one of our Saturday classes would be devoted to etiquette and manners, a class that would culminate in a dinner with our classmates and spouses to put our newly learned behaviors to the test. (Cotillion, anyone?)

Then, in late December, BNET published its Pick, Pour, and Taste Wine Like a Pro feature package. I must admit, I devoured those articles faster than most business-related pieces.

Almost like a perfect storm, I felt like the universe was conspiring to tell me to shape up and show a little couth.

In a world of text messages and videoconferencing, learning etiquette sounds a little on the old-fashioned side. I'll leave the discussion of whether it really is to other bloggers.

But learning how to behave in a more formal setting without embarrassing yourself can't be a bad thing. Neither can picking up some good general knowledge about wine -- you never know when it will come in handy.

So why don't we do it more? Why do we have training sessions on new programs or new regulations and ignore learning the standards like good manners? Why do we learn the principles of economics but not the principles of a good bottle of red?

I, for one, am looking forward to that Saturday class in July with much more excitement than the last one, which was about business communications. And while golf really isn't my style, I do enjoy drinking wine and would love to learn more about it. And both these skills stand a better chance of impressing a boss or client than reciting a string of user statistics.

What do you think? Do you think learning these type of skills would be a boon or bane to an MBA program? Should we start adding wine appreciation and opera electives? What unrelated-to-business knowledge or skills have helped you in your career? What do you wish you knew?

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