Modern Manners: Tech Etiquette

Once upon a time, I had the delight of overseeing the intern program at the PR firm where I worked. As I  interviewed a potential candidate and  waxed poetic about the fabulous life of a public relations professional, I couldn’t help but notice that my interviewee had whipped out his cell phone and began furiously texting. Needless to say, my green eyes grew to the size of  saucers! Then I had an epiphany: perhaps cell phones, computers, and social media demand a new playbook of contemporary etiquette to guide us through today’s tech-saturated world. From texting to Twitter, technology presents us with countless scenarios where modern manners come into play. And so, inspired by this young gentleman, here are my tech etiquette tips. Enjoy!
  • Switch your cell phone to silent and put it away in social situations and places including but not limited to: movies, meetings, church, weddings, parties, meals, libraries, interviews, business gatherings, etc. Otherwise, by using your cell phone in these situations, it sends the message that this little device holds more significance than the company you keep. In the event you’re expecting an important, life-altering call, discreetly check your phone, and politely excuse yourself if you need to make or take a call.
  • Please don’t text and drive, ever – it’s just not worth it and you run the risk of seriously hurting yourself or someone else.
  • If someone calls you, aim to call them back instead of texting them back.
  • Need to discuss a personal matter via your cell phone? Wait until you are in the comfort of your car, home, or space where you can have some privacy.
  • Exercise common courtesy in elevators by staying off of your cell phone. Your fellow riders will be oh so appreciative!
  • Channel your soft inside voice when talking on your cell phone in public.
  • It can be tricky to convey emotion via a text, so if you need to communicate something significant, call that person to share your news. They will be thrilled to hear your lovely voice!
  • No matter how enticing, don’t text anything private or confidential (text or pictures). Once you press send, it’s off and you can’t take it back. There’s many a Lifetime movie about this topic!
  • While sharing oodles of pictures via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. can be oh so tempting, proceed with caution when publishing images on your social media accounts.
  • Think twice before you tweet or post an update on Facebook, and make sure it’s not too personal or embarrassing. There’s nothing worse than social media remorse!
  • Social networking sites represent a wonderful way to stay in touch and reconnect with people, however if someone sends you a friend request and you don’t know them, it’s perfectly appropriate not to accept the request.
  • Follow the golden rule, and aim not to rant, complain, or speak negatively about your job or a specific person on social media. Chances are they will see it and it could cost you your job or a relationship. Not to mention it will live forever on the world wide web!
  • While wildly addicting, try to keep your daily pins, tweets, and posts to a minimum so your friends aren’t overwhelmed with content.
  • When emailing someone, always double check the “To” line to ensure you’re only sending your message to the intended party. I’ve heard many a horror story of an accidental “Reply All” ending in serious drama!
  • Emails exist forever and can be forwarded on to others, so be super careful about what you write. A good rule of thumb? If you don’t want it printed in the newspaper, don’t put it in an email.
  • Avoid using all CAPS as this looks like you’re yelling
  • Try to respond to the emails that you receive. Dealing with a chaotic schedule? Set aside 30 minutes a day to check email, that way you’ll be able to stay current and not stress.
  • Discuss significant matters (good and bad) in person, rather than via email. Computers can’t compete with face-to-face contact!
  • When sending documents and pictures, strive not to send any enormous files, as you may crash the recipient’s computer. Absolutely must send that photo montage that’s 22 MB? Have no fear, send it via file sharing, or check with the recipient to confirm they can receive a file that large.
  • When sending emails to a large group, fill the addresses in the BCC line; this protects everyone’s privacy.
  • Business emails call for a more formal approach, so strive to keep the content professional and limit exclamation points and smiley faces.

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