Manners and Connectivity

September 30th, 2011

Etiquette rules have changed now that we are constantly connected. We currently compete with smartphones, tablets, and any manner of other Internet-enabled device in direct social situations. Ideally, when we have a chance for face-to-face socializing we should turn off our devices. The more dependant people become on their devices, the less likely this is to happen! Many people commit connectivity faux pas without even realizing it. The following are some common examples and tips to avoid making them.

Phones at the Dinner Table – You would not talk over someone midsentence in a conversation. The same manners apply for texting or answering your phone at the dinner table. It interrupts the flow of dialogue and may make your company feel like you aren’t listening to them.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Excuse yourself from the table if you need to take an urgent call.
  • If you know you will be distracted and curious if your phone alerts you of a text, take a preventive step and turn it off.
  • For dinners lasting longer than an hour, you could suggest the table take a “cell phone break” for those who need or want to check their emails or messages.

Loud Phone Calls in Public Places – Exposing other people to your personal life is definitely a social faux pas. When you're in a public place you may not realize how quiet the space is or how loudly you are talking, but the people around you do.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Silence your phone and do not answer it
  • If you need to answer the call, step away to a secluded area to take it and tell the caller that their call is important and you will call them back in x amount of minutes.
  • If you must take the phone call and you are waiting in line, ask the person behind you to hold your spot and quickly go take your call.

Becoming Overly Dependent on Digital Communication – By making email the easiest way to reach you, you run the risk of disconnecting from the world around you. In face-to-face social situations, your email can become a distraction, as you will feel the need to check it regularly.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Make the most of face-to-face communications.
  • Make your phone to be the best way to get a hold of you over email or texting.
  • Resist the urge to respond to email immediately, wait to check it after you leave your social engagement.

The etiquette rules in the age of connectivity are fluid. Ultimately it’s up to us to realize when we are invading another person’s space with our conversation or are making our associates feel overlooked. If you can think of other invasive or annoying social faux pas that occur because of digital communication, we would love to hear about them!

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