People with positive personal impact are always polite. They know and understand the basic rules of etiquette. But 21st-century technology has created new etiquette challenges. Here are a few thoughts on how to be courteous while using your latest gadget.
- Never text and drive – never. If you want to make a call, use your hands-free device. Better yet, wait till you get where you’re going to make cell phone calls.
- When you are in a public place, like an airport concourse, don’t stretch your laptop power cord across the floor. You can cause a serious accident. Find a place to sit where you can be close to the power source – even if it means sitting on the floor while you charge your battery.
- Listen to local people in your car, instead of relying on your GPS device. It’s the polite thing to do – and you will probably get where you’re going sooner.
- If a stranger offers to take your picture, return the favor. Ask if he or she has a camera and would like for you to take a photo of him or her and friends. If not, ask if they have an email address where you can send a picture of him or her that you will take with your camera.
- Use the “reply all” button only when everybody on the original email list will really want to hear your thoughts. In most cases, it’s better to reply to the sender only.
- Don’t wear your Bluetooth earpiece if you are not on a call. At best, you look like a limo driver. At worst, you look foolish.
- Finally, DO NOT TYPE EMAILS IN ALL CAPS. All caps indicate that you are yelling. It is bad form and does not help you make a positive personal impact.
Computers and airplanes present other potential etiquette gaffes. Here are my thoughts on airplane computer etiquette.
- When you’re on a plane and your neighbor is working on his or her laptop, don’t snoop. That spreadsheet is none of your business.
- Don’t stare at your neighbor’s movie. If you’d like to watch it without sound, ask first.
- On the other hand, be neighborly. If you see someone straining to peek at your movie or music video, invite him or her to watch. You might make a new friend.
- Bring headphones. If you plan to watch a movie or play a game with sound, spare your neighbors the noise. If you forget, ask a flight attendant for airline headphones.
- Defend yourself. Bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to shut out others’ laptop sounds.
- Speak up. If you have a problem with the sound or the content coming from your neighbor’s laptop, tell the person. If that doesn’t work, contact a flight attendant.
- Be considerate. Leave the porn and gore flicks at home.
But cell phones are the most abused electronic devices. Here are my thoughts on what to do and what not to do when it comes to creating positive personal impact with your cell phone. You probably don’t know it, but July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month.
- Avoid speaking loudly on your cell phone when you are in a public place – a restaurant, airport concourse, airplane (before the door closes). No one wants or needs to hear your conversation. This is good advice for two reasons. First, you won’t be disturbing the people around you. Second, your business will remain private.
- Ask permission first. When you think that you may be receiving an important call, let others know and ask their permission to leave your phone on and to take the call.
- Excuse yourself. When the all-important call comes, excuse yourself and find that secluded spot.
- Turn your cell phone off. Whether you are attending personal or professional functions, just turn off the phone. You can check your messages later. Few of us are so indispensable that we cannot be out of contact for a few minutes or hours.
- Use the silent ringer or vibrate function appropriately. When you are in the presence of others, it is just as inconsiderate to check the incoming call as it is to answer it. If your phone vibrates, excuse yourself to check the call, or better yet, check it later. You are really discounting a person to whom you are speaking if you suddenly say, “Do you mind if I check my phone and see who this is?” You almost hold your breath waiting to see who will win the attention of your companion, you or the caller?
- Keep your voice down. The phone may look tiny, but it picks up sound perfectly well.
- Behavior is the problem, not the phones.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people create positive personal impact. They follow the career advice in Tweet 72 in Success Tweets. “21st-century technology has created new etiquette rules. Learn and use them to appear polished on line and off.” New electronic devices can help you stay in touch 24/7. They can also lead you to break simple rules of etiquette and civility. Use your common sense when using your electronic gadgets – especially the text function on your cell phone. Never text and drive. Texting and driving is dangerous, illegal in most states, and an accident waiting to happen.