Checking a text in mid-conversation can appear rude.
I was taught that there are a few cornerstones to polite social interactions: don't interrupt people when they're speaking, say please and thank you, and always send a written thank-you note.
Yet in today's world of texts, emails, Facebook posts and tweets, many of the basic guidelines we try to follow in face-to-face interactions can be easily overlooked.
One of the biggest challenges of written communication such as email and texting is the inability to convey tone or humour. Because people can't see your facial expression or hear the tone in your voice, they can't tell whether you're being sarcastic or serious. Hurt feelings can arise when you're just kidding.
To combat this, communicate clearly and to the point. Always re-read what you write before you click send, checking tone, grammar and spelling. Make sure what you've written is similar to what you'd say face-to-face. Remember to include the please and thank you that you would have conveyed in person.
When emailing, avoid using abbreviations that you would use when texting, such as LOL or l8r.
Don't write in all caps or use too many exclamation points. This is perceived as "yelling" within electronic communications.
When sending or receiving emails involving multiple parties, follow some simple guidelines:
- When responding to an email, don't click "reply to all". Include only the recipients that need to hear from you.
- When forwarding an email, delete additional email addresses from the attached messages.
- Remove any comments in email strings that should be kept private between the parties involved.
- Use the BCC field when sending an email to a large number of recipients. They'll thank you for not broadcasting their email addresses to the world.
Research shows that up to eight in every 10 adults owns a mobile phone, and almost all use them for text messaging at some point.
The chime or buzz of an incoming call or text can be distracting and alluring, leading many of us to use our mobile devices at inopportune times.
First and foremost, remember that the person standing in front of you is vastly more important than the text message you just received. Don't interrupt your conversation with digital distractions.
When you're talking on the phone in public, be aware of your surroundings and try to keep your voice down. Don't discuss your personal life on your mobile phone in the office, in a restaurant or on public transport. Not only does this show consideration for others around you, but it protects your privacy as well. If you need to have a phone conversation in a public place, try to keep it brief.
When you're in a crowded environment, don't crank up the sound on your Angry Birds game. Either mute the volume or wear solid-fitting earbuds so others around you are not disturbed. Show someone who is trying to talk to you the courtesy of removing your earphones.
And turn off your devices completely when you enter a church, cinema or library. Even vibrate mode can be disturbing to others trying to concentrate.
Up to two-thirds of adults who access the internet use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. Remember, the internet is not a private place - parents, teachers and employers are often able to see what you post.
Don't post something about others before checking with them first. You could ruin a relationship or unintentionally embarrass someone.
Try to keep your posts positive, and avoid posting gossip or anything that is not true. Not only will your posts influence the way people perceive you, but they can hurt feelings or come across as bullying. Definitely avoid posting when you're angry or frustrated.
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE