Missed Manners

Don't let technology get the better of your behavior.
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This story appears in the December 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Some tech junkies tend to neglect etiquette in the office. E-mail is still one of the leading culprits, but newer arrivals like BlackBerrys and wireless earpieces are causing their share of social snafus. "Technology should not be an opportunity to multitask conversations," says technology etiquette expert Laurie Puhn, president of Laurie Puhn Communications. "Anytime you're [doing that], it is rude and unacceptable."

The ability to instantly send and receive e-mails and messages on your BlackBerry, PDA or smartphone requires etiquette attention. Put that BlackBerry away during meetings to let others know you're giving your full attention to the proceedings. Cell phone related violations are a major source of complaints, whether it's ringers going off at inappropriate times, loud speaking voices or the inadvertent sharing of personal information with anyone in the vicinity. Just because your Bluetooth headset is unobtrusive doesn't mean you can interrupt someone you're speaking with to take a call. It's also polite to pull out your iPod headphones (both of them) when you're talking to a colleague.

Make a good impression by being more aware of your tech habits. The old standards of turning off your cell ringer and using proper sentences and salutations in e-mails still apply. Finally, don't hesitate to respectfully bring attention to others' tech etiquette violations. "Rudeness is on the rise because we're not realizing these behaviors are rude," says Puhn, bestselling author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. Entrepreneurs can set an example with their own behavior and by discussing etiquette policies with their employees.

Edition: July 2017

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