Tech Etiquette for Businesses
New tech meets old etiquette
I don’t consider myself too much of a Miss Manners fuddy-duddy. Ending sentences with prepositions is something I’ll totally put up with. And, aside from beginning sentences with conjunctions, all those times I interfaced, shifted paradigms, and leveraged resources to gain greater synergies were maybe not among my best moments as a writer.
Look, I get it: when your business can rise with a single tweet from Oprah, etiquette can seem like a time-waster. But when someone as uncouth (and un-entrepreneurial) as me says your business can just as easily fail with an erroneously hit “send” button, you should probably listen.
Technology is ubiquitous enough that people have griped about the obviously annoying, so these are my suggestions for subtler—but still so needed—new tech etiquette.
» I think we can finally break with the early-tech dictate that even checking a phone is a faux pas. Phones are where important information comes from these days. If, though, you answer with the words “No, he didn’t!” don’t expect me to be waiting when you get back.
» The same goes for forcing your interlocutor to go public in a way he or she didn’t expect. If people are calling you to talk to you about “the rash,” they probably don’t want to be put on speakerphone in the middle of a board meeting.
» Not having your phone on vibrate is the same as carrying around a boom box. I don’t want to listen to Ke$ha in what was previously a serene office.
» If I copied someone on an e-mail that I sent to you, I wanted him or her to be a part of the conversation, so use “Reply All” when you respond. I really don’t want to become the go-between telling Mary that Jack says that he totally agrees with the idea she’d sent me in response to her thought that the deadline might be too early when he’d announced that…
» While sending a “Thanks” e-mail is often appreciated, responding to every casual appreciation with a “You’re welcome” is what ladies in corsets and high collars called “ill-advised.” This is how the Internet mediates between politeness and the aggravation of too many one-word missives.
Facebook and LinkedIn:
» Feel free to send me an event invite through Facebook, but I will feel free to ignore it if I think you invited everybody on your Friends list. I will, though, give the offer a second thought if there’ll be free food.
» LinkedIn is not Twitter. I really mean this. It’s totally reasonable to tweet to Lady Gaga that you just bought her new single, because the whole point of Twitter is to track trends. You can call out basically whomever you want. It’s totally unreasonable, however, for you to say on LinkedIn that you and I have “done business together” when we only met once, waiting on line for a Peter Pan bus to Philadelphia. And, yes, I know you can plug your Twitter feed in to your LinkedIn profile, but do you really want that guy in corporate knowing how much Lady Gaga you listen to?
» This isn’t so much etiquette as common sense: don’t complain about people that you’re friends with, or even people your friends are friends with…especially your boss.
» “C u soon” is fine if you’re running late for an appointment. If you’re tempted to write, “g2g wife havin baB,” however, you’re not yet fit to be a parent.
Conspicuous Early Adopting
I’ll get Google+ when I’m good and ready. I don’t want that much more of my personal information out there, or one more password to forget, and I’m certainly not sending it to a company with five already-failed experiments in social networking. I chose not to join Foursquare, and, unlike you, now that it’s basically fizzled, my contacts still pay attention when I say things.