(Smart)Phone Etiquette

Have a P.A.I.R. and Kill Phone Zombies

Guest blogger Dan Wojenski is an I.T. Technician at Geller & Company in New York, NY.  His previous employers include A&E Networks, and Apple, and UBS AG.  Dan is also a 20+ year musician (drums).Dan Wojenski

“To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is unacceptable.” Wisdom I first heard from a teacher I didn’t like and barely listened to. But when I hit the working world, it was etched in my memory, and therefore I was seldom late.  Etiquette comes from strange places.  We hear it, see it, and sometimes, we ignore it.  But you can not ignore etiquette if you want to succeed in the business world.

I remember having extensive customer service training when I was employed by an insurance company. The instructor said, “It doesn’t really matter what you say, if you say it with genuine tones of respect.” He was right.  I began to see the power in negotiation, conversation, and even just casual speaking. You can look someone in the eye and tell them a monkey just farted in his or her soup, did a backflip, and laughed away from the table. While ridiculous, if said with genuine confidence, there’s not much to argue.  Obviously a dramatic example, but the point is clear.  The same can be said about my topic today: (Smart)Phone Etiquette.

Patience. Attention. Intelligence. Responsiveness. =  P.A.I.R.  (I’ve always wanted to do that.) These are a few of the traits required to have a conversation on a professional level. Whether a person is a CEO or the building maintenance crew, proper etiquette is essential to building trust and earning respect. The world is evolving into a social media frenzy that #occupies a large percentage of our daily conversations. It is very easy to allow the technology to control our manners or even our attitudes.  It creates what is known as the “Phone Zombie.”  A plain traditional Zombie appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unaware of his or her surroundings.  Now add a phone to that picture you have a Phone Zombie.

For example: You are talking to your manager and they suddenly start typing fiendishly on a Blackberry.  All it took was a vibration or beep.  They stop listening to you and begin paying attention to the text flying in from some other virtual source. There is no issue with that; except you and your manager were just mid-conversation, talking about company business, at the same company in which you are currently standing! Even if it were an emergency, there is no excuse for not politely removing themselves from the conversation they are currently in with you. No excuse, none.  It takes five seconds to say, “Excuse me I have an emergency that I need to attend to, can we please pick this up when I get back?”  Courtesy is still relevant, and will not cost you anything, except maybe an angry employee or coworker.

For my next point we can venture out of the workplace.  The old saying was, “[so-and-so] can’t walk and chew gum at the same time” or something like that.  Nowadays, it’s all too common to see people texting,  mp3-ing, streaming, drinking, eating, and all while doing something that can seriously hurt someone: driving.  No text or song is worth twenty years in prison, or the guilt you will suffer for the rest of your life if you accidentally take another’s.  We all have our vices but, in my opinion, vehicular homicide should not be on the top of your list!

By no means am I saying never text, never email, or never surf on my devices. I’m doing it right now! This article was drafted during my commute (subway), at home, and on my lunch breaks at work.  I was not typing this post in the middle of a meeting, typing away at my smartphone under the table, while supporting my false arm with the other hand.  Today’s companies want employees who can multitask, without ignoring their superiors. In-person conversations and meetings have a point, and your superiors will judge you based on how you act during them.  You can see reactions, feel the tone, and feed off each other’s ideas.  Brainstorming anyone?  Even bad news is better in person.  Would you really want to hear about your job loss in an email or an accidental post in the termination mailbox?  If you do, just stop reading now, as it probably has already happened.

There is one business thriving off this behavior: Social engineering. They will have your credentials before you even look up to see the stairs you’re about to trip on.  The money will be gone faster than you can swipe L-A-R-C-E-N-Y on your touchscreen. The amount of information released into the open air due to phones and other connected devices is staggering. I was on an hour-long commute the other day and within minutes had this woman’s name, social security number, credit card numbers, security codes, pin, and I was not the only one that could hear her! I hope she was lucky, but some part of me is saying, “Get her some nice new credit and debt she never wanted.”

Life teaches us lessons.  Listening to them is my lesson for you today. Try not to end up here: http://textface.com/


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