Yes, I know, some people will think that good manners, etiquette and behaving well might be a little old-fashioned, but sorry guys, I think it’s still very relevant. Etiquette used to be about how to set a table, or how to write a letter, but these days, it’s often very much needed when using technology. We are run by technology, we live it not just daily, in every minute and it’s a huge part of our lives. Here are some tips, or netiquette, which are, in my opinion, good practices to follow. You might disagree, and that’s ok, but all I ask is you read this article and take on board the items you know you should, and can, do better.
So Here are My Top 12 Etiquette, Specifically Geared Around Technology
1. Put the phone down
A while ago, I went to a luncheon with a group of friends and of the table of 10, 8 were on their phones. Two were even texting each other! When you’re out for a meal with friends, family or business associates, then put the phone down. Actually, have a conversation with the person next to you and be present.
2. Don’t give the phone priority
When you’re in a meeting (or Zoom) and especially a one-on-one meeting, then it’s incredibly rude to say to the person you’re in the meet with “Excuse me, my phone’s ringing” and basically make that person sit and wait whilst you take a call. Sure, exception might be the hospital ringing, or school (and you know your child is sick) but generally a random call can go to message bank. Whether it might be a client, a friend, or a telemarketer, it doesn’t matter. The person you’re in the meeting with takes priority.
3. Zoom priority
If you’re having a meeting over Zoom, unless it’s a large group meeting, doesn’t really involve you to a large degree or you’re just ‘sitting in’, then be present. Again, don’t be on your phone, clearing emails and then unable to answer a question because you were not listening.
4. Avoid multiple text messages
Unless you’re actually having a live conversation with someone, then finish a thought before you text, rather than thought, send, thought, send, thought, send etc. It’s almost like you’re hassling the person “listen to me!!!!!” Take a moment to compose your thoughts, ask yourself if you need to say anything, check spelling (auto-correct didn’t take over) and then click send. Remember the other person may be working (and interrupted by a series of dings) or perhaps they simply can’t respond at present. They might have a life! Nagging might force them to respond sooner, however, it is rude. If 24 hours has passed without response, then you can ask “Thoughts on the above?” Keep it light. Whether text or LinkedIn or Messenger, multiple messages might get my attention, but if you’re spamming/selling to me and do it with multiple messages, yes you got my attention … and the next button I press is ‘remove contact’.
5. Cyber Bullying
Seriously, I should not need to say this, but anything where you’re giving someone a hard time, bullying, abusing them or swearing at them, simply should not occur! Keyboard warriors might happily sledge someone, but it’s just not acceptable behaviour. Even passing on a negative message or a reprimand should not be done via email or text. If imparting someone negative, pick up the phone and talk to them, or better, meet in person. You can follow up with a written confirmation afterwards if you’re wanting to keep a record for HR purposes. Try talking to a person first.
6. Don’t install what is not authorised
This is for the ‘tech heads’ in larger companies who absolutely hate staff installing things on work devices without liaison, authority or permission. It can cause issues around viruses, scams, system conflicts and more, and when it creates a problem, it’s your IT Department that has to fix the problem. Most larger firms have policies, so familiarise yourself with the policies and follow them; they exist for a reason.
7. Over capitalising
IF I PUT A LARGE CHUNK OF TEXT IN CAPITALS, it’s akin to shouting at someone. Similarly, the same applies to bolding text, although I feel isn’t a little softer. Also, avoid too many acronyms or abbreviations (unless you know your reader and they will understand your shorthand). In my view, ONE word being capitalised isn’t insulting, but some say, even one word is not appropriate.
8. Remember punctuation
I know, especially when you’re texting, that people often drop capitals, full stops, question marks and commas. However, without these, it can change the meaning of the message, or at the very least, force the other person to re-read several times to understand what you really mean. It might even cause angst or misunderstanding because you lack a piece of punctuation that’s potentially given the message a different interpretation than you intended. Also avoid using exclamation marks too much!!! Also be sensible about where you use emojis. Whilst a message to friends is fine, it might not be appropriate on a work message to a new client.
9. Humour is often hard to put into writing
A joke, piece of humour or even some light sarcasm can often be taken the wrong way. When you do it in person, you see a reaction and can respond to correct the situation. In writing, email, text etc – that is very hard. Think twice before using dark humour or sarcasm online as well as posting something which you know will be controversial.
10. Respect others
Facebook has a number of rules and one is to speak nicely to each other – which I frequently see not happening. Respect that others have a different opinion to yours. That is ok – you don’t need to sledge them for their viewpoint. What do you gain by hurting another person? Also using a competitor’s post to promote your business, I believe, is in poor form as well.
11. Don’t read other’s mail or messages
Whether that’s a text, email or social media message, it’s just wrong. If you’re in a relationship, it just shows you don’t trust them and you perhaps cannot be trusted. If you’ve a question about something, then just ask them. If you hear their phone beep, just call out ‘think you’ve got a message’ ….. no need to actually check their phone for them. The same goes for System Administrators who might have access to co-worker emails; that doesn’t mean they should read them. Having said that, be sensible about what you put in work emails as they are often the ‘property’ of the business.
12. Sharing without permission
I know some people absolutely live on Insta or Facebook, but if you’re going to post someone’s personal information, video or a photo of them or any personal details – ask first. Yes, I did bold that for emphasis! 😊 You might be quite happy sharing with one and all what you ate for breakfast, or the argument you had with your partner, but others are more private people and don’t want or need the world to know every intimate detail of their life. Respect that and don’t overshare – especially if it’s not solely your news.
I hope these thoughts and ideas have got you thinking about what you do better and can improve on. If you need any assistance with Leadership Mentoring, Life Coaching or Business Coaching, please reach out to me here – I’d love to hear from you.