The Butler Is In: Good manners in the digital age
There are right times and wrong times to use cellphones or take photos
The Butler Is In. CBC P.E.I. has launched a summer series featuring certified protocol and etiquette consultant John Robertson, who will guide us through how to do things the right way.
Robertson spends his summers in Murray Harbour, and is a professionally-trained English butler.
This week, Robertson has advice for the new digital age, explaining what's rude and what isn't when using your cellphones and devices, especially when you're with another person.
1. Use your manners instead of your cellphone
Robertson is appalled at people who continue to talk or text when they are in a service situation: "When they're at a grocery check-out, or the bank teller. At the Access P.E.I. office in Montague, they've got signs at every wicket, asking people to please put down their phones while they're being served, and I can't believe they have to tell people this simple fact. You don't talk on your phone when somebody's trying to be of service, renew your license, whatever."
2. Pay attention to the person you're with
3. Don't be disrespectful
"Making or taking a telephone call when you're in a meeting, when you're at a party, when you're in a restaurant, just telling everybody else that they are less important. 'My dry cleaner says my dry cleaning is ready, I've got to take this call!'
4. Stop for lunch
"Take a break over meals. Please, turn it off, and connect with those you're with at a meal. And at meetings, theatres, any social event, silence your phone, unless you're a medical professional waiting to be called into surgery. At any ceremony, like a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, nobody wants to hear a phone ring."
5. Keep your conversations to yourself
"Those loud, lengthy, personal conversations, we've all heard them, in a lineup for example. If those around you can hear your business, you're talking too loudly."
6. Photos — know where and when to take them
Sure, we all love photos but, "I don't want them taken when I'm exchanging wedding vows, I don't want them taken at a funeral, for goodness sake," says Robertson. "People who come to events need to be present in the moment with the celebrants, with the mourners, with the people who matter in your life."
7. Use photo restraint on social media
8. Email etiquette
Robertson says email should be treated like telephone calls, and should be answered within 24 hours of receiving. And know the difference between a personal email and a work one. Professional emails should be professional.
"Start off with a useful subject line, not 'Hiya.' Personalize it so the recipient knows it's not a broadcast message that 1,000 other people have got. Introduce or re-introduce yourself: 'We met at the technology fair last week at the widget booth.' Be brief; most people lose interest after 150 words. And no emoticons: "You don't want cute in a business email."
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