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How to Use High-Tech Gadgets Courteously

How you use high-tech gadgets at your business can reflect on your business courtesy. High-tech-device faux pas in business situations throw politeness out the window (and could affect your business relationships):

  • Text-messaging: Be with the one you’re with! Social norms say that the person you're conversing with takes precedence over text-messaging. This rule applies in business, as well. It's not only rude but also distracting to check or send text messages in the presence of other people, whether socially or for business.

    If you receive an urgent or important message in the presence of a business associate, excuse yourself and find a secluded corner where you can communicate.

  • MP3 players: If you want to listen to some music while you're in your office, go for it — especially if you have headphones that you can use. But if you're working in the public eye, such as in sales, listening to music is clearly inappropriate.

  • Laptop computers: What possible etiquette pitfalls could surround laptop computers? Here are some:

    • Some keyboards are quieter than others, but loud typing during a meeting can be very distracting. If you’re getting the look of death from the person sitting next to you, switch to a pen and paper.

    • The same rule applies to conference calls; ambient noise can drown out speakers. Set your phone on mute unless you’re speaking so that others won’t hear you typing.

  • Cell phone pictures and videos: No longer a novelty, the camera phone has become ubiquitous. When it comes to business, however, you should steer clear of certain things. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but think twice before you use your cell phone to take covert shots of fellow employees or unreleased products without approval.

    Photographing or videotaping people you work with without their knowledge or approval is not professional. Respect others' privacy as you would expect them to respect yours. Never post business photos or video online without a signed agreement.

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