By Dana Gornitzki
It seems that being reachable 24/7 has become the norm in the modern age. When a tiny personal digital assistant (PDA) such as a BlackBerry enters one’s life, it can become an obsession.
Yes, that technological wonder is compact and terribly convenient, but it is the source of many blunders against social graces (tsk tsk).
Advice on averting BlackBerry etiquette disaster is buzzing on the interweb these days. In a New York Times article debating modern devices and social graces, we read that “a spirited debate about etiquette has broken out. Traditionalists say the use of BlackBerrys and iPhones in meetings is as gauche as ordering out for pizza”.
In fact, some companies are already banning the use of PDAs in meetings, and it may just be the start of a trend.
Here are a few simple and commonsense etiquette tips:
- Switch that little device to silent when in a meeting or on a social engagement
- Use an email filter
- Turn the device upside down if you feel that it needs to keep you company and you must have it in view (like the pet or beautiful accessory that some people treat it as)
- Banish the cordless headset (for many reasons)
- No texts or emails during a meeting or dinner. Those can wait. They did before you had the “CrackBerry” so they can now, too.
- Check it in if you have the option and need the discipline. Last year, a hotel chain in the Americas introduced such a programme for PDA users who needed an intervention.
Here are a couple more that etiquette expert Linda Allan and office technology consultant Steve Prentice shared with the Globe & Mail:
- Talk rather than text, a phone call can often solve problems more quickly and completely.- Schedule text breaks at meetings by setting ground rules for checking PDAs. Instead of an outright ban, consider a 20-minute break in mid-meeting.
- Ask permission if you’re waiting for an important e-mail or call by letting others at the meeting know ahead of time that you’re expecting it.
Now, that we have those out of the way, let us take you back to a time not so long ago - in fact just a decade ago (when the first “CrackBerrys” were introduced: meetings could not be interrupted, people showed up on time, and (yes, yes) we actually paid full attention to the people we were with. No distractions, no excuses. Aaah.
So, kind Gentlepeople, be considerate and engage in some good old-fashioned politesse by putting that Blackberry away. Check it in, if you must.