I hate it when I sound like my mom. Hate it! But when I say the word “etiquette” and you roll your eyes, remember my disclaimer. Now that technology is almost part of our DNA, I’d just like to throw out a few little reminders about what is okay and what isn’t when it comes to people and tech. I can’t believe I’m actually having to say this, but:
1. The person in the room is more important than the person on the phone. If someone is in your office, either let your call go to voicemail or, if it’s important and expected (e.g. you’re having a baby), get on and off the phone as quickly as possible with an apology to the person in the room with you.
2. No, it’s not okay to check your phone randomly during a conversation with a real person. If you absolutely HAVE to take the phone out and put it on the table because it might just disappear if you don’t (you know who you are), put it face down. The person at the table is, as in the case above, more important than where you’re meeting your friends after work.
3. Speaking of socializing, it is not “socializing” or “catching up” to sit at a restaurant with all your friends and each of you is reading your phone. That is, in the worst definition, “getting together.” But why bother? Stay home and check your phone in your pajamas so you don’t even have to pretend that you tried.
4. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, okay to wander around in airports/grocery stores, movie lobbies or other public places talking about private things to your friend on the phone via speaker or with your bluetooth device on. We a) don’t need to know your business, b) find you annoying, and c) think you’re crazy and talking to yourself if you’re on bluetooth and your hair covers your ear. Stop it!
5. Lastly, it’s ludicrous to say you “hate talking on the phone” and that you prefer texting. Texting takes just as long and no one can tell inflection or tone. It doesn’t feel efficient, it feels selfish and makes me feel dismissed. Plus, I have seen some resumes come in from texters and let me tell you, they aren’t pretty. Or spell-checked.
Conversation is an art. Companionship is a pleasure. Commiseration cannot be adequately accomplished by text. Please, for the sake of my mother–and me, and your friends–put down the phone, have a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and sharpen up those conversational skills by giving someone your time and attention. Those of us who AREN’T listening will be ever grateful.
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