30 November 2011
You’re in line at the grocery store and the person behind you, while placing their items on the conveyor belt, starts talking out loud. You turn, knowing they must be talking to you given the fact that no one else is around them only to see the Bluetooth device they are wearing on their ear. The first time I saw a man walking into a store with one of these devices I thought for sure he was a member of the Secret Service. We are, indeed, a society “plugged in” at all times.
In our plugged-in, fast-paced world this holiday season, let us not allow cell phones, laptop computers, iPods, iPads, electronic games or any other techno gadgets to get in the way of our being present to the people around us. While our myriad devices are designed to enhance our lives and allow better communication, it seems we sometimes ignore others by focusing on the tool rather than the person. Our use of technology could be part of what causes others to see us as less than polite and lacking in good manners. Technology is not the culprit; rather the problem is how we use our technology that can cause us to come across as rude, and void of important social skills.
Perhaps were we to make and follow some “technology rules,” we would find ourselves able to create the friendly feeling we desire during the holidays and beyond.
Here is a beginning list of rules of proper Tech-Etiquette:
- Don’t let your email or phone rule you. Try silencing your phone, or not looking down to scan your newly arrived email should it ring in the middle of a personal or business conversation. Note the look on your friend or client’s face. I bet they will reflect happiness with an element of surprise to have experienced being a top priority to you.
- When taking a call in public speak softly, please. When possible it is best to step far away from other people’s personal space and speak in a low voice when we answer calls. Also, keep in mind there are certain words we do not want our children and grandchildren to add to their lexicons. Let’s help each other shield them by avoiding vulgarity in earshot of others.
- Do not wear a Bluetooth earpiece outside of your car. Unless you ARE a member of the Secret Service, this is not appropriate. The nonverbal message you send everyone around you is, “You can talk to me, but at any moment someone more important than you may call me and I’ll need to answer it.” Removing this device will communicate to people around you that they are important enough to have your undivided attention.
- Do not email or text what should be spoken in person. If our message is that of a serious nature or tender and highly personal, let us reserve those words for a phone, or better yet, in-person conversation.
- NEVER TEXT WHILE DRIVING! Nothing is that important! Find a safe place to pull far off of the road if you must text immediately.
All manners, including Tech-etiquette, are ways of letting other people know that we think they’re important. We convey a warm feeling when we are able to focus on the people we are with, not their or our cell phones. We need only consider the effects of our own behavior on others around us, and we’ll get it right every time.