I must admit, I’ve been considering writing this piece for quite some time, but after getting yet another business text after 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, I decided it was time to discuss some guidelines and etiquette relevant to the digital age.
Keep Business-to-Business Contacts During Business Hours
Most business hours are Monday thru Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but with social media and digital communication, you can literally “do your job” anytime of the day or night. BUT – when you are communicating with co-workers, keep in mind that business should normally be conducted during business hours.
When my phone goes off at 3 O’clock in the morning, it scares the Hell out of me. I jump out of bed, trip over the dog and stub my toe on the dresser only to find out that a co-worker has finally figured out how to sort data on an electronic spreadsheet. “Yay!”
I also have clients that feel it is acceptable to call me on a Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. – only to find out I forgot to silence my phone at church; neither are okay.
If it is 8:00 p.m. and you call my cell phone you can expect me to have just finished dinner, had a cocktail or two, and I am likely watching a movie, splashing around the swimming pool, or doing household chores. This is not the time to reach me for business.
Using Only a Facebook Event Page for Party Invitations
Not everyone is on facebook, so you may not reach all of your intended guests… enough said.
Texting Thank You Cards
Is it okay to send a text “Thank you” for a gift your received? Only if it is the last gift you want to receive from someone. If I take the time to buy you a gift, even if it was online and drop-shipped in a gift-wrapped box, then I expect you to take the time to either send me a thank you card, or pick up the phone and call me. But call me outside of Monday thru Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., this is a personal call, not business.
Before cell phones and the age of digital communications, laser printers, and LEDs, there was no grey area. You called your friends at home, not at work… and your collegues and co-workers dealt with you at work, rarely calling you at home.
Should You Accept Your Boss’s “Friend” Request?
No, and your boss should be demoted for making such a request.
Using Social Media for important life events
Can I share my friend’s wedding pictures on social media?
This is a tricky one. First – the bride should ALWAYS be the FIRST one to post wedding pictures on social media. IF she is using a professional photographer, you may have to wait days before you can post any pictures.
This is why it gets tricky: if one picture gets sent to a relative who couldn’t make the wedding, or a collegue who was out of town, they ALSO must be informed NOT to share the picture on social media. If just one picture is leaked… well, game over!
This is the same rule of ettiquette for births! NO pictures of the baby should be distributed until Mom says it is okay to do so. Period!
Death announcements should also be handled with a great deal of respect, and restraint, when it comes to social media.
Learn to use the BCC Feature on Mass Emails
When you send an email there are three sections for the intended addressee. One is “To”, one is “CC”, and the other (apparently hidden) is the “BCC”.
“To” is for your intended recipient, usually a single person.
“CC” is for a second, third or more recipient of a group, a “c”arbon “c”opy. Every recipient will see every email address of everyone addressed. This is fine for groups like a family email, or an inter-office message.
“BCC” is “B”lind “C”arbon “C”opy, use this when you don’t want to disclose the personal and private email addresses of everyone on your list. Everyone on the list will receive the identical email, but email addresses won’t be disclosed.
On this topic, it is not cool to add email addresses to a mailing list without permission. Their are anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM Act) in the United States, governed by the Federal Trade Commission, that applies to all commercial messages, with penalties of up to $16,000, but that is another article entirely.
When to Turn-off or Silence Your Phone
On the airplane
In a funeral
At a wedding
In most hospital rooms
At the theatre
In Church (see above)
However, it may be acceptable to use an online version of the King James Bible while sitting in the pew, just make sure you are not texting friends, checking scores, or especially frowned upon at church: looking at porn.
Many concerts won’t let you use your phone while the main performer is on stage. I recently saw Comedian Amy Schumer and the security guards at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville made sure phones remained off. Is it that the phones are disruptive to other concert goers, or is it about the money? On jaxevents.com, regarding Kevin Hart’s show in April, also held at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, the site said, “• NO PHOTO, NO AUDIO, NO VIDEO! • NO CELL PHONE USE DURING THE PERFORMANCE! This includes, but not limited to, texting, tweeting, talking, photos, and/or video. Patrons who violate these rules put forth by the show, will be escorted out of the venue. NO REFUNDS!”
(Okay, but its going to be very hard to keep them all away.)
GPS Tracking and Lying about your Location
You may not know this, but there is a feature on your phone that lets you track the location of your friends and family. Remember this BEFORE you lie about your location.
I’m sure there are many more topics on this LED Age of Ettiquette that I have left out, so I’ll reserve the possiblity of a Part II in the future. If there are any that I’ve left out, feel free to send me your pet peeves via email or facebook, or private message of course if appropriate.