Top Breaches of Net Etiquette at Work

Etiquette at Work Admit it -- you know you've done it at least once: Written a long e-mail complaining about a co-worker, project or even your boss, then hit the "send" button, and realized you sent it to the very person you were griping about. Or maybe you were checking your messages during a meeting, and inadvertently exclaimed so loudly over something that everyone stops and stares at you. These could be deadly faux pas, according to a recent HR managers survey from Robert Half

For the survey, the HR managers were asked, "To what extent, if any, can technology etiquette breaches -- for example, sending e-mail messages to unintended recipients, checking e-mail on a Blackberry during meetings, etc., adversely affect a person's career prospects?" Sixty-one percent of them responded that these breaches could affect them "somewhat,: and only 23 percent said "not at all." Fifteen percent said the breaches would affect them "greatly."

"Etiquette breaches, such as paying more attention to your smartphone than the people you're meeting with, can make others feel less important and cause you to miss information," said Brett Good, senior district president of Robert Half International. "Other mistakes, such as sending a confidential e-mail to the wrong person or impulsively posting an offensive comment on Facebook or Twitter, can have more serious, career-impacting consequences."

In their new guide, 'Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age,' the experts at Robert Half give labels to the most common offenders, and tell us how to avoid becoming one. Among them are:

  • The Venter. That's the tattler -- the indiscreet person who can't resist the opportunity to complain about work, and post job-related gripes on their Facebook pages, on Twitter -- even on personal blogs and in comment forums after related news articles. Also, whenever they send an e-mail, it's usually negative. Advice: If this is you, you should follow your granny's advice of "If you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all." Keep the negativity to yourself and only put supportive, upbeat comments out there. If you must vent, do it verbally, in private, with someone you trust -- and don't write it down.
  • The Noise Polluter. That's the person who is always shouting into his cell phone, no matter where he is or who he's with. He'll take a call or make a call anywhere, and never goes outside to finish it. Whether in a meeting or at a colleague's desk, he freely takes and makes calls, oblivious to his surroundings. It's nearly impossible to concentrate or carry on a normal conversation when he's nearby. Advice: If you're guilty of this, set your phone to silent mode at the office so it doesn't bother anyone, and if you must answer, take personal conversations outside or behind closed doors.
  • The Cryptic Communicator. This person relies on texting shorthand for every type of correspondence, and sometimes even verbal conversations. Strange or informal abbreviations, bad punctuation, and spelling and grammatical errors leave people confused and dismayed. Advice: This person should simply slow down, and not assume anyone knows any text abbreviations. The extra time it takes to spell things out will be well worth the appreciation of colleagues.
  • The Pop-Up Artist. While others are trying to complete assignments, this chat fanatic insists on sending inane instant messages, tweets or texts. All day long and into the night he sends pings and pops with banal, non-urgent messages that people learn to ignore, causing trouble when there's actually something important to convey. Advice: Make sure you only send IMs, tweets or texts when it's important and urgent. No more cutesy messages for you. Why not try paying attention to completing your own projects, rather than constantly sending people status reports on them? For most people, e-mail is immediate enough.

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