There was once a time when the only faux pas you could make on the telephone was to put someone on hold and click over to another call. Ever since smartphones emerged, things have gotten stickier. Now, we not only have access to our phones, texts and emails 24/7, but we are also expected to be accessible almost all the time. At the same time, the classic standards of phone etiquette still apply, making the rules about how to use our devices in a professional setting without seeming unprofessional murkier than ever. What are we supposed to do? Here is what I think Emily Post would have to say about it:
1. Let Colleagues Know Ahead of Time
If you are beginning a meeting and you are expecting an important call, let your colleagues know before the meeting starts that you may need to leave the room for a moment. This courtesy will not only show them you respect their time, but will also quell any concerns when you duck out.
2. Use the “handshake or hug” rule
Think back to when you arrived at your meeting: did you shake hands or hug the other party? A handshake implies the unfamiliarity of the relationship, so keeping your cellphone use to a bare minimum is the best way to go. A hugger may be more relaxed and understanding of you needing to check your emails during lunch.
3. Use the Rule of One
A one-on-one meeting should hold all of your attention. This person has set aside time just for you, so don’t be busy on your phone communicating with someone else. If you are in a meeting with more than one person, it’s appropriate to check your phone while the others are conversing and the spotlight isn’t on you (the “hug or handshake” rule may apply here as well).
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