Sunday, February 27, 2011

BlackBerry & Smartphone Manners and the Rising Popularity of the Lack Thereof

A friend of mine has terrible BlackBerry etiquette. When I’m talking to him and he gets a message, he checks it immediately without warning or excusing himself. He continues the nodding and the ‘uh-huh’s, and ‘ok’s, but I know he’s not really listening. I know because I’ve tested him on many occasions. On one such occasion I threw a request for a large sum of money into what I was saying. He predictably answered with his usual ok. He settled for buying me lunch.
With the increasing popularity of smartphones, people are giving in to the urge to check email, Twitter, Facebook and sports scores, among other things at inappropriate times. But who decides what time is an inappropriate time?
Let’s take meetings as an example. Traditionalists would tell you that any use of a BlackBerry in a meeting would be as tactless as dancing naked on the boardroom table. On the other hand, Techno-evangelists would argue that not answering important texts and emails instantly can be bad for business.
Some organizations have banned BlackBerrys in meetings altogether. Others encourage people to bring them for reasons like: reduced paper usage, increased in-meeting creativity and relaxed atmosphere. Most companies do not have rules on BlackBerrys in meetings. This means employees are left to figure out for themselves what is permitted. Dangerous territory if you ask me.
Alex Williams of the New York Times explains how some people have interpreted BlackBerry etiquette.
o Jason Chan, a digital-strategy consultant in Manhattan, different rules apply for in-house meetings (where checking BlackBerrys seems an expression of informal collegiality) and those with clients, where the habit is likely to offend. There is safety in numbers, he added in an e-mail message: “The acceptability of checking devices is proportional to the number of people attending the meeting. The more people there are, the less noticeable your typing will be.”
eyond practical considerations, there is also the issue of image. In many professional circles, where connections are power, making a show of reaching out to those connections even as co-workers are presenting a spreadsheet presentation seems to have become a kind of workplace boast.
r. Brotherton, the consultant, wrote in an e-mail message that it was customary now for professionals to lay BlackBerrys or iPhones on a conference table before a meeting — like gunfighters placing their Colt revolvers on the card tables in a saloon. “It’s a not-so-subtle way of signaling ‘I’m connected. I’m busy. I’m important. And if this meeting doesn’t hold my interest, I’ve got 10 other things I can do instead.’ ”
So which side do you take? Traditionalist or Techno-evangelist?
Source: NY Times
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