MD — While many offices are more relaxed during the summer months and some
businesses even change their dress codes to reflect this, considerate behavior
shouldn’t go on vacation. I often hear my clients complain about an absence of
etiquette today (mostly related to the use of cell phones by younger people)
and I’m sometimes faced with behavior in business situations that I think is
rude, even though the offender has no idea of the impact of his actions.
trends may be contributing to less civility in our workplaces – growing
informality in business in general and changes in technology outstripping our
ability to adopt norms for its appropriate use. Yet even in this rapidly
changing environment, there are some emerging standards of etiquette that can
help guide business owners.
phone use seems to be the most common area of complaint and cell phones are predicted
to be the most used communications tool for businesses by next year, surpassing
desktop computers and landlines. A few simple guidelines I’ve picked up from
the emerging field of business etiquette in the age of the mobile device can
help take the friction out of the ubiquitous presence of cell phones and allow
them to be the useful tool they can be.
First and maybe most simply, give 100 percent of your attention to the person
in front of you. Texting, taking a call or checking your phone sends the
distinct message, “This is more important than you.”
Have a professional ring tone and expect the same of your employees. Think
about the times you’ve heard a ringtone and made an instantaneous, negative
judgment about its owner.
Don’t “read under the table” in meetings. While most people know to turn their
phones to silent mode in a meeting, many people still check email, check social
networking sites, tweet or look at sports scores or stock prices. I’ve observed
other people in meetings noticing this much more than the clandestine
smartphone user thinks.
At business meetings over meals, cell phones should not be part of the place
setting. Turn your mobile to airplane mode and put it away before you meet. If
you must remain available for a potential urgent call, mention this before the
Always make and take personal calls in a private place, especially if you work
in an open office environment. If you do work in an open office environment,
keep your mobile in silent mode as well.
And finally, never use your cell phone in a restroom or elevator. These aren’t
the places to share any personal or business information, even if you think
with all behaviors, the boss sets the tone. Notice your own practices with your
mobile devices, because when you set expectations with your employees you can
be sure they are taking their cues from how you behave.
short blog hasn’t even touched on appropriate language, the use of social
networking sites or attire, which based on recent experience also deserve some
attention. But there is one additional area of workplace behavior coming at you
to think about as a business owner: “vaping” or smoking e-cigarettes.
of electronic cigarettes is taking off and many bars and restaurants don’t
consider their use a violation of their smoking bans since e-cigarettes only
give off water vapor. Time to look at your smoking policy.