Business Etiquette in the Technology Age

By August 27, 2014Newsletter

Technology has dramatically changed almost every aspect of our daily life – from the way we wake up in the morning, the way we get our information, the way we communicate to the way we spend our free time. The list is endless and ever changing.

Recently, I started taking note of how the use of technology has changed business etiquette.  Are manners going by the wayside? Has everything become casual?  Is multitasking the accepted norm? While I have my own opinions and observations and, let’s be honest, a few of my own bad practices, I was curious to see what the expectations should be.

Following is a list of best practices for the use of technology compiled from several business etiquette experts.

Cell Phones

  • Turn your phone to silent – even vibration noise is bothersome to others.
  • Never check your phone, text or catch up on emails while at a meeting, during dinner, or in any other professional setting.*
  • Do not use speakerphone. It is rude to others around you and you could be disclosing confidential information.
  • Wear a watch if you need to check the time.

*If you are waiting for an urgent call or message, state this before the start of the meeting and ask for permission to take the call.

Speaker Phone/Video Conferencing

  • Keep the agenda brief and choose a quiet place to conduct the meeting that is free from background noise.
  • Announce everyone who is present at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Participate in the meeting.  Other people can hear you typing, playing with your phone, talking to others or multitasking.  If you really think that you do not need to be in the meeting, then do not attend so as not to distract others.
  • Avoid flipping through papers or excessive movements.
  • Always assume that the microphones and cameras are on.  Be mindful of your attire.

Laptop/Wireless Use

  • Ask for permission at the start of the meeting to take notes on your laptop and do not use it for other multitasking.
  • Pay attention to the speaker.  As with using cell phones, using your laptop can be disrespectful and distracting. Do not ask someone to repeat something because you were not paying attention.
  • Do not be a Google know-it-all.
  • Do not send instant messages to others to provide your commentary or share confidential reactions to the meeting content.
  • Keep eye contact and do not hide behind the screen.
  • Make sure your laptop is working and correctly configured before the meeting.

Instant Messaging

  • Ask if the person is available before launching into a conversation.
  • Keep it short. IM is for quick questions and updates. Anything longer than a few sentences should be discussed over the phone or in person.
  • If you are unavailable, make sure that your status is set to reflect this.

Email

Email is a long-standing business communication tool with a complete set of well-established do’s and don’ts.  However, the use of text messaging and the rise of social media have led to some bad habits.  Here are a few reminders:

  • Speak professionally, no text speak.  Emails are professional documents.  No jargon, slang, abbreviations or use of emoticons.
  • Using poor grammar and misspelling words is never acceptable.
  • Don’t be lazy. Don’t use email for something that should be communicated via another channel – a handwritten thank you note or a personal phone call when bad news is given.

Paying attention to business etiquette is a sign of professionalism. Using good etiquette can form positive first impressions and build trust. Hopefully, this list of best practices will serve as a good reminder for us all.

 
Sources
Liz Taylor, founder, Etiquette Principles, August 2013
Prosio.com, August 2013
David Ingram, small business owner and business writer, as published in the Houston Chronicle online.
Angie Reid, Mashable.com, May 2012
Marjorie Brody, business etiquette expert, Entrepeneur.com
USA Today.com
LinkedIn, May 2014, posted by Scott Pugh, Recruitment and Search Manager

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