Geoffrey’s Tech-etiquette for All

A debt of gratitude is owed to Mr. Geoffrey Webb for taking the time and putting together a Magnificent list titled, “10 Rules of Tech-etiquette.”   

Though many, many of us think of some of these activities as “normal” because “everybody does it,” that does not necessarily make them acceptable or even appreciated.   

I have many times wondered what has happened to Common Courtesy?  What happened to the days when Customer Service was the best way to get Customers?  Word of Mouth was the way you wanted to be known.  That’s how many businesses obtained and maintained their clientele.  And as OLD as this is going to make me sound, nowadays, you go to a retail store or practically any business for that matter, and Good Luck at even getting acknowledged as more than a Transaction!   

Look at all those smiles!


The Cashier may not even look up at you.  “Have a Nice Day.”  Humph.  When was the last time you heard that?  Now, many of you will say, well it depends on how you treat them.  And while I do agree, to a certain extent, it is the Cashier that is Representing the Conglomerate or Chain and thus, they, not us, should be more interested in making sure that we are completely satisfied with our Shopping Experience.   

I’ll give you an example.  Before Starbucks EXPLODED with a store on every corner, their Business Philosophy focused on Attention to Customer Service.  The goal was to make each and every customer feel that they belonged there.    

Do any of you remember “Cheers?”  The Theme Song? 


Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.   

Well these verses, in a nutshell, embodied what Starbucks’ Philosophy WAS.  They grew too much too fast and slacked off on training and their Requirement that ALL of their Baristas adhere to this Maxim.  And while I am using them as an example, they are not the paramount example of lack of customer service.  I’m sure we have all had our run-ins with the lack of it.    

It carries over.  When we, as individuals aren’t courteous, when we aren’t polite, when we don’t acknowledge people in our Personal Lives, why would we do it at Work.  Or Vice Versa.  We are who we are.  Our behaviours will spill over into every area of our lives.  Therefore it is Vital, it is Crucial, that we remember and practice Simple Common Courtesy.  And Geoffrey’s List goes a long way in assisting us all.   

1. Close your laptop. If you’re working on your laptop and someone enters the room to talk with you, close your laptop and focus on them. Same thing in a meeting, close that laptop whenever you can. If it needs to remain open for reference or note-taking, try to place it at angle so the screen isn’t a barrier between you and others.

2. Single task during conference calls.
The temptation is huge. Odds are, no one will ever know if you’re checking email, reading a book, or even taking a nap. It’s a character and respect issue. If it’s not that important, then don’t be on the call; if it is that important, then be fully on the call.

3. Single task with live people.
Resist the temptation to check your email or surf the web or update your status while simultaneously carrying on a real-live conversation.   

4. Don’t call after hours. We all have answering machines now so it’s easy to avoid the human contact by simply calling early in the morning or late at night. Have the guts to call during office hours.   

5. Don’t let your email or phone rule you. Ever been having a conversation with someone, their cellphone rings and they just silence it without breaking contact with you. They don’t even check to see who it was. How’s that make you feel? Important? Valued? What about the opposite: You’re meeting someone in their office and the phone rings or an email arrives (bing!), and they interrupt the conversation to answer the phone or check that message. How’s that make you feel? Second-rate? Second-fiddle?   

6. Don’t wear a Bluetooth earpiece around. Are you really that important? The nonverbal message you’re sending to everyone around you is, “You can talk to me but at any moment someone more important than you may call me and I’ll need to answer it.”   

7. Don’t talk to your slides. Your slide show is there to back up your story and help your audience get what you’re trying to convey. Contrary to popular use, your slides are not cue cards to help you remember your points or a security blanket so you can talk to the screen instead of the people in your audience. Rarely should you even look at your slides – they’re not there for you!   

8. Ban phones from meetings. Like shoes in the Far East, or guns in the Old West, phones should be left at the door in corporate meetings. Some companies collect them in a box. Others charge the individual when it rings in a meeting (or they have to buy dinner/drinks afterward).   

9. Put your camera away. Now that our phones take pictures and record video we have more ways to document and share our lives. My only warning: In your rush to record life, don’t forget to live it.

10. Don’t email/text/DM what should be spoken in person.
 Anyone who electronically transmits what should be spoken face to face (i.e. firing an employee, dumping a boyfriend/girlfriend, critiquing performance, etc.) is a coward.   

There are just a couple of things that I would add to his list:   

  • No Cell Phones, iPod’s, or Texting while DRIVING! Though against the law in most places, people STILL DO IT! And put us ALL in danger.  Though it sounds extreme, is it really?  How many times have we ALL seen people swerving from one lane to another on the HIGHWAY all because they are doing one of the above.  Another that happens all too often is people do not STOP at a STOP SIGN because they didn’t see it!  So you see, is my statement that they put us in danger really isn’t extreme, it is just a fact.
  • None of the Above (No talking on the cell, texting, checking your status, emailing, surfing, or listening to your iPod. I’ll reiterate laptops, which is #1, as well) when in front of a Human Being, EVER! That’s Just Rude (I realize it’s just an elaboration on # 3, but HAD TO SAY IT for those that may not get it).  As Geoffrey perspicaciously points out:

Ever been having a conversation with someone, their cellphone rings and they just silence it without breaking contact with you. They don’t even check to see who it was. How’s that make you feel? Important? Valued? What about the opposite: You’re meeting someone in their office and the phone rings or an email arrives (bing!), and they interrupt the conversation to answer the phone or check that message. How’s that make you feel? Second-rate? Second-fiddle?   

I would also like to mention that eye contact goes a long way in feeling and making other feel listened to, understood and appreciated.  When someone is talking to you and you’re not looking at them (you’re texting, checking your phone, emailing, surfing) they have no assurance that you’re listening.  I realize that you don’t have to look to hear, I too can repeat what someone just said even if I was multitasking.  But do we really listen? Did we really hear the person?  Even if your answer is yes.  Don’t we all deserve acknowledgement?  Don’t WE like to know that we’re being paid attention to?  Eye contact goes a long way.  Stopping what you’re doing and just paying attention…What validation.   

  • And finally, CALL, don’t TEXT. If you can’t have the Person in front of you, the next best thing is their voice, not Symbols. e.g. r u bz?
    wat r u doin? c u l8r.  UGH!! I mean not only is it impersonal, but WHAT HAPPENED TO SPELLING?!?!?!   In regards to this point, michaeleriks kindly pointed out a huge flaw in my comment:

Here, on the other hand, I find myself strongly disagreeing. There are many instances when textual communication is superior, e.g. because it is asynchronous, makes it easier for the recipient to get numbers, dates, and names right, and allows a later access. As a very rough rule of thumb: Various textual forms are superior for transmitting information; various oral forms are superior for bonding and entertainment. The mere fact that you have a particular preference in communication style and medium does not automatically make others share this preference.  (As far as lack of spelling, I do agree.)   

Michael is ABSOLUTELY Correct!  There are times when texting will be far superior in exchanging data.  What I was referring to specifically are those instances when someone Texts you to find out what you’re doing, what’s up, to “chat” with you and yet don’t Call you.  Not only is it aggravating to not be able to communicate quicker,clearer and broader (you can say a heck of a whole lot more if you talk than if you text) but many times there are huge misunderstandings with a Text.  Tone can be lost or misinterpreted.  A disagreement/fight can ensue that could have so easily been avoided had the person just called.     

I know a huge argument for texting is that people can’t hear what you’re texting.  Fine.  But do you have to do it when someone is trying to talk to you?  Also, many people will argue that they can text in the classroom and no one can hear them and it will interrupt no one.  Well, if you’re in the classroom, shouldn’t you be paying attention?  What can I say, it’s the Mom in me.  And the Student in me that has to PAY for Classes!   

I have not covered everything.  I’m certain there are many other areas that we are miscommunicating and/or failing in.  But, Geoffrey has done an Amazing Job!    


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