- 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.
"When people are mindful of being considerate and respectful of
those around them, they usually make the right social decisions."