Business Etiquette in the Technology Age
Sure, staying connected through technology is important. However, many times we find ourselves a slave to our iPads, smart phones and computers. It’s easy to get away from our number one priority, people. We can easily offend people in a business setting when we focus on our techno gadgets rather than the people we are actually communicating with through those gadgets. Proper etiquette can help maintain and build those personal connections, allowing us to stay connected on a more personal level. Here are some thoughts on etiquette that can help you balance your reliance on technology with the importance of focusing your attention on the people around you.
1. Focus on people when meeting face to face. In a face to face meeting don’t interrupt the meeting to answer your phone or check your messages, they can wait. Focus on the meeting at hand. Also, make sure to turn off your computer and phone devices when you head into a meeting. A constantly changing computer screensaver, or a tweeting or vibrating device can become annoying quickly.
2. Always double check the wording in instant messages and e-mails. All caps is always a no-no. Also subtle wordy messages may make your response come off as confusing or too demanding. Short answers may come off as terse. The bottom line is:
a. Make sure you know your audience;
b. Take a moment to reread your message before you send it;
c. Remember people can’t see your face when they read electronic messages all they have are your words and their current mood to go with it;
d. Choose your mode of communication wisely. A complex topic that is best discussed in person shouldn’t be done via e-mail or instant messaging; and
e. Take a few extra moments to add explanatory words like “This is what I suggest” or “Let’s discuss if you have concerns” to allow the recipient to request clarification.
3. Spelling is still important. In all correspondence – messaging, e-mailing, and written letters, make sure to spell words correctly. Limit your use of texting abbreviations like “ttyl”, “bion”, or “lol”. Not everyone knows what they mean or appreciates when they’re used. Make sure to spell the name of the person you are communicating with correctly. No one likes to get a generic response filled with abbreviations and with their name spelled wrong.
4. Mode of communication matters. With so many ways to get a hold of people, let people know which way is the best way to get a hold of you and likewise respect others’ wishes by contacting them in the media they like best – e-mail, phone, instant messaging, etc. Not only will this simplify the communication process, you will probably get a quicker response.
5. There’s a time and place for multitasking. Make sure your technology is safely stored away before interacting with people. This means stop typing on the computer or checking messages when you’re on the phone and remove your phone ear piece before you go into meetings. People can tell when you’re distracted and not focusing on the discussion at hand.
6. Make a point of listening. With so many distractions from the fast paced world we live in you will stand above the rest and be noticed if you pay attention and take in what the other person has to say. This includes in person and reading written messages. Always take an extra few minutes to read e-mail and text messages so you understand the full meaning of what is being said. Don’t just read the first sentence. When meeting in person, give the person full eye contact and let them finish their thought process before responding.
Today we have more options in how we communicate with one another than ever before. We need to be respectful of others, connect with them in the manner they wish, focus our attention on them when we meet with them personally, and communicate in a thoughtful manner. Yes proper etiquette still matters.