Friday, September 22, 2006

Tips on Modern Etiquette

New times, new business environments, new tools... it all leads to trying to figure out what is polite and what is not. My father was raised in an upper-middle class family on Staten Island, New York, and his mother was very much an Emily Post woman. Every situation had rules of conduct and no broken rule went unnoticed. My father brought a lot of that into raising my siblings and I. It was bothersome and often infuriating when I was young. Later it meant more... Now it seems a blessing. Things like cell phones, email, and social networking go far beyond anything Emily Post addressed in her writings, but the common sense she preached to polite society circles can be carried forward to new times. So, in her spirit, here are some new rules based on current observation:
  • Cell phone conversations in bathrooms is rude! The noises and activities of a bathroom should not be a background to a phone conversation.
  • Cell phones in elevators; DUH! Subjecting trapped passengers to your loud voice is not nice. Plus, your activities make the people around you feel like they can't converse so as not to disturb you. What a whammy! Their politeness doubles your rudeness.
  • Cell phones left on "ring" in an open office environment.
  • Talking on a cell phone in the office. Weird as it is we talk louder into a cell phone. Ask your caller to dial back on your land line or ask to call them back.
  • Emails that do not follow regular letter writing etiquette. No caps, no greeting, no salutation, smileys, etc. This seems so simple. If you wouldn't do it, or would do it in a letter, follow the same rules in email.
  • Pings and dings to notify you when new email arrives. A friend reports that the office next to hers sounds like a video game ALL DAY LONG! Just stop it!
  • Multitasking is passé. Reading, talking, and writing all at once is like trying to stuff your face full of everything on your plate, all at once. Gross!
  • Blogging publically about things that should be handled privately is certainly in bad taste.
  • Laughing, grunting, or expressing any emotion about something you receive in a text message in a group setting is inconsiderate.
  • Paying more attention to email flowing onto your PDA/Treo/Blackberry than the person/people you are dining with... Need I say more.
  • Stopping a meal/meeting/whatever to take a call or return a message. Why not just shout out loud, "You're not as important as everything else in my life!" There are some situations that call for this type of behavior but ONLY if you've forewarned everyone you're with.
  • Wondering around your public office spaces while talking on a cordless headset. Just as bad as talking on a cell phone in an elevator. IT'S NOT NICE!
Most of all things rude is about not thinking that other people matter less than you. What I learned early is everyone else DOES matter. That is what "being polite" is all about. Respect begins by doing things that help me not look like an ass. I encourage you to consider what you might do to avoid this as well.
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