Mind Your Manners: Digital Etiquette


I visited some of my favorite relatives in Indiana over the weekend.  At one point, a Blackberry started vibrating and the owner of that PDA immediately began to read the message.  The other three of us accepted this as a good time to check our messages, which we were doing when my cousin walked into the room and sarcastically commented about the “quality time” we were spending with each other. 

This scenario reminded me that we’re wrongfully allowing technology to alter in-person interactions.  Although enhancing our productivity, misuse of technology is causing etiquette breaches in business, public and at home.  I still had this on my mind when a very relevant article by Louise Armstrong in PR Tactics caught my eye.

Here are some important tips from Louise on how we can improve our personal and professional technology etiquette:

Keep it real–A real person always takes precedent over a device and deserves your full attention.

Be aware of your surroundings–Don’t have a cell phone conversation in any place where people can’t leave.  This rules out coffee shops, elevators, grounded airplanes and bathroom stalls.

Do the crossword puzzle test–Any place that you wouldn’t do a crossword puzzle is a place where you shouldn’t catch up on emails.  Think meetings, networking events and cashier transactions. 

Eliminate confusion–Explain the guidelines about wireless devices at the start of every meeting or event.  Schedule breaks for checking messages.

Don’t clutter–The average white-color worker receives 100,000 emails per year.  So, only send meaningful, informative messages.

Be transparent–Don’t hide behind the anonymity that social media can provide.  Identify yourself in every post.  You’ll be less likely to insult, hurt or annoy someone.

Co-owner of Palette Public Relations in Toronto, Louise Armstrong blogs on etiquette at www.acallforclass.blogspot.com.

1 comment on this post.
  1. Sydney:

    I’ve been reading through your various posts and this one got me. Being new to Chicago – my hardest thing to adjust to is going to a TweetUp, where there is this expected balance of tech time and personal time. I’ve been to some where there is no emailing, no tweeting, no facebooking, just real, live, ::Gasp:: human interaction and some great conversation. And I’ve also been to some where there’s one person with his/her face buried in their phone and you have to pry them away to engage with you in real life.

    The jokes always start from there “Wait, Sydney, I’ll DM you instead of talking to you because you’re sitting right next to me”.

    Interesting points re: digital etiquette – thanks for sharing!

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