3 Business Etiquette Rules in the Info Age

Let’s talk business etiquette for a moment. Not standard etiquette, but three of the more subtle behaviors that demonstrate professionalism in the Information Age (aka Digital Age, Computer Age, New Media Age). By now, everyone knows not to email or text IN ALL CAPS, but some of us may not realize we’re giving the perception of committing other faux pas. With a little bit of proactive explanation, we can correct that misperception.

When on a voice or video call, we may need to take notes. And how do we take notes? Likely by typing them, versus putting pen to paper. And what does the other party hear? Keystrokes. Consider providing a simple explanation when starting the call: “Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, Ms. Doe. I don’t want to lose any of the details of our conversation, so I’ve opened a word doc and you may hear me clicking away on my keyboard, taking notes. I don’t want you to think I’m distracted or doing anything other than focusing on our conversation. You have my full attention and I’m excited to get started….” A simple explanation before the conversation begins alerts the other party that you are focused on her, versus typing an unrelated email.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat across a conference room table only to see someone, perhaps a member of my own team, on their phone. We’re all left to guess what they’re doing. So, whenever I’m in a meeting I offer something similar to the above to prevent any sense of impropriety: “Thank you so much for meeting with us today. We don’t want to lose any of the details of our conversation, so my associate, Jack, may type some of the finer details into the notes app on his phone while we’re talking. I just don’t want you to think he’s distracted or tweeting while we’re talking!”

Finally, remain authentic to your explanation. If you are on a voice or video call, do not allow other stimuli to distract you. If you are in a meeting, don’t place your phone on the table so that you can attend to every notification immediately. Be present. Give the other party the respect of your full attention.

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