Are You Techno-Etiquette Impaired?

By Lorraine Behnan, Communications Consultant and Speaker
From the Fall 1999 Newsletter of the Life
Insurance Institute of Canada

In this information age, we have come to rely on technology to do most of our communicating for us and this reliance brings a new battery of challenges. One of the most notables is techno-etiquette. Would you ever consider sending a letter peppered with spelling mistakes? Would you clutter conversations and memos with rambling verbiage and tasteless jokes? Would you be quick to confront an individual with unabashed criticism or insensitivity? The answer is likely, "no". Yet when it comes to technological communication many tend to tend to overlook otherwise unacceptable and unprofessional behaviours. The fallout from the abuse and misuse of e-mail, voice messages, and faxes is causing high levels of frustration and stress in the workplace. Associates and seminar participants have identified these to be some of the biggest techno-etiquette irritants:

  • Using e-mail as a barrier to personal interaction, particularly regarding sensitive or contentious issues. This is perceived as cowardly and rude.
  • Lengthy attachments that take more than five minutes to download during peak office hours.
  • Gridlock of jokes, anecdotes, inspirational messages.
  • No subject assigned to the transmission.
  • Signatures that do not include postal address, and telephone and fax numbers.
Voice Mail:
  • Purposely calling after hours to avoid personal contact. See #1 above.
  • Callers who leave long -winded rambling messages rife with irrelevant information.
  • Voice messages that have funky background music or little ditties chirped by pet canaries.
  • Voice message that does not include the date or accessibility of the person you are trying to contact. The recording, however, does not have to include a minute- to- minute action plan.
  • Callers who do not clearly and slowly express their names, numbers, and nature of their message. If you have a unique name spell it. Be considerate and always leave your number. This small gesture will be greatly appreciated by the listener.
  • Purposely sending faxes of a sensitive nature after office hours to avoid personal interaction. See e-mail #1
  • Illegibility. Poor handwriting and spacing of content impair the reading.
  • Personal faxes sent without notice thus putting your most intimate details for viewing pleasure of the whole office.
  • Lengthy faxes sent during peak hours
  • Unsolicited advertising
Just because technology allows us to communicate at lightening speed does not mean that the response has to be likewise. Unless marked 'urgent' (make sure it is indeed urgent) allow at least twenty-four hours for a reply. Keep your communication:

  • Friendly
  • Appropriate
  • Considerate
  • Efficient

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