In this digital age, I'm really starting to wonder what constitutes bad manners. Is texting in the presence of others bad manners? To me, texting is like having a private conversation in which the person you are with isn't a participant. Is that rude? I'm not sure anymore. Everyone around me these days is texting while I'm talking to them.
What is modern-day etiquette for business and social situations? Is it rude not to look a co-worker in the eye and say hello on the elevator if he is pressing buttons on his iPhone? I would imagine Ms. Manners would say yes. But the majority of the people I rode the elevator with recently were doing it.
Yesterday, I spoke to the Women's Executive Club, Fort Lauderdale. The topic was balancing work life and the digital age. One woman asked me if its rude not to answer her client's phone calls late at night when that's the time most of them need to reach her. Clearly, no one should have to be available 24/7 but if that's when her client's need her, maybe it is rude not to answer their calls.
I think in today's hyper-connected world, we need to set some rules upfront in the workplace to avoid coming off as rude: On her Works blog, Nicole Williams says: Before a big meeting, meet with your co-workers to review important points, including etiquette: “Remember, this is a big presentation—let’s have cell phones off” or “I know we’ve all seen this PowerPoint a million times, but the Miller Technology folks haven’t, so act interested and engaged during the entire presentation.” By reminding co-workers that good etiquette is expected, they just might do it. (Check out Nicole's quiz; How Well-Mannered are You?)
A seniors blogI read really made me think about my tech etiquette. Cookie Curci writes about a friend who came to visit. "Instead of a friendly hug, I was given a dispassionate nod, and I had to wait while she continued a conversation on her cell phone. My friend continued her robust dialog a good 5 minutes before finally removing the uninvited, cellular intruder from her ear. I realize that my friend is a busy career woman and business must be conducted regularly on her cell phone. But it's just plain good manners to finish her phone conversations while in her car and turn off her cell-phone long enough to greet me properly."
Clearly, new technology brings a need for a whole new set of rituals, customs and, above all else, good manners. All this new technology in the world comes down to one thing - human need to connect. But maybe, how we do this and where we do this may need to be reexamined.
What do you consider bad manners? Have you changed your mind lately about what you consider good and bad etiquette at work and home?