Wireless Etiquette

Hey again everyone! I was going through some of the great sites on the net, I stumbled across a page initially posted by Christopher Elliott (Specializing in technology, travel and mobile computing). I found it quite interesting, so of course, I decided to share it with you!

E-Mail Etiquette for your wireless device

Technology changes quickly, but often so does the rules on how to use it. Take wireless e-mail, for example.

You could be checking your Office Live Small Business or Windows Live Hotmail account on your smartphone, completely unaware that you’re either offending those around you or the person to whom you’re sending. For instance, you shouldn’t be typing and talking to a customer at the same time. And you shouldn’t be sending the great American novel to someone who’s checking e-mail from a cell phone.

A few years ago, I penned a similar column on e-mail etiquette for wireless devices. But since then, the technology has changed-and so has the etiquette.

Here are eight new tips for handling e-mail on a wireless device.

If you’re sending to someone on a wireless device

  • * Consider sending the message later, when someone is at his or her PC. Seriously. Your message to a wireless device is likely to be glossed over or even overlooked completely. If you don’t believe me, then try to remember the last time you checked e-mail from your wireless device. Were you paying attention? Neither was I. If you’re sending to someone on a PDA, ask yourself: Can it wait?
  • * Write headlines like you’re texting. Conventional wisdom says you should give your recipient enough information in the headline to know whether the e-mail needs to be opened now or later, at the office. That’s still true, but the advent of texting has modified that rule. It’s still important to write a clear, simple headline that conveys the gist of your message, but texting has shrunk the attention span of the average PDA user. Now it’s not a question of whether to skip words or abbreviate, but how much? Should it be: “See you at 5 p.m.” or “See U at 5” or even, “cu@5”? The answer is: Whatever works best for your recipient.
  • * Be concise, but don’t oversimplify. Even users who pull up the full message don’t expect a dissertation. People who read your e-mail from a mobile device (just look for “Sent from my Windows Mobile Smartphone” in the signature) need to get the information fast. But remember this still isn’t text messaging, so mind those abrvtns and don’t skip important details. “People send far too much information,” says Stever Robbins, the host of podcast, The Get-It-Done Guy. His advice: Begin messages with a one-paragraph summary of the entire e-mail, so readers on mobile devices can get to the heart of the issue immediately rather than scrolling down a tiny screen.
  • * Follow up politely and promptly.If you know you’re sending to a PDA (personal digital assistant), mark your calendar to follow up with that person soon afterward, either by e-mail or phone. Because no matter how compelling your headline or your text, there’s still a good chance it might be forgotten. At least that’s how Rachel Weingarten, author of the book “Career and Corporate Cool,” sees it. “People will glance at a message on their smartphone and a part of their brain will tick it off as having been dealt with,” she says. The key is to follow up politely. Don’t assume the e-mail has been overlooked. A gentle nudge is all that it often takes to find out if the message got through.

If you’re sending from a mobile device

  • * Don’t compose and converse at the same time. I’ve seen it many times, and so have you. Someone who is multitasking-talking on the phone, typing an e-mail, and who knows what else. (Yes, I’ve seen eating, drinking, and grooming.) “If you must answer or type a message, please excuse yourself,” says Oliver Mims, who hosts the online etiquette series “Proper Ollie.” “Do not type and carry on a conversation at the same time.” And why not? It’s just bad manners. You wouldn’t imagine talking to someone on the phone and in person at the same time, would you?
  • * Take your time-or better yet, wait. Related to the distraction problem above, if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a message hastily typed from a smartphone, you know what I’m talking about. The message is riddled with typographical errors and appears abrupt. “People are so anxious to answer on the spot that they sacrifice the quality of their communication, which wouldn’t be the case had they waited to respond,” says Pamela Holland, co-author of “Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?”
  • * Don’t keep the device on 24/7. Even though being accessible all day and night can be good for business, it can ultimately be bad for you. In my earlier version of this column, short battery lives meant it was impractical to keep a smartphone powered “on” all day, but that’s increasingly not the case. Just because you can be wired all the time, don’t submit to the temptation. We all know the impact of “always connected” lifestyles on our personal health.
  • * Mind your Ps and Qs. Technology can be a blessing and a curse. My PDA, for example, can finish words by trying to guess what I wanted to say. Pay close attention to this “helpful” feature, because it doesn’t always guess correctly. Ditto for automatic spell-check features.

Whether you’re sending or receiving e-mail from a mobile device, one rule holds true: If you’re aware of your surroundings, and aware of other people, you’re far less likely to offend anyone. That’s how I see it, and it’s also how blogger and etiquette expert Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, sees it. “When people are mindful of being considerate and respectful of those around them,” she says, “they usually make the right social decisions.”

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