The Tech Etiquette Manual
How to be plugged in without being rude: The pros solve modern conundrums.
Jodi R. R. Smith, author of From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman ($10, amazon.com): If you’re having more than a two-minute conversation, then, yes, both buds need to come out―whether you turn off the device or not. And that goes for your Bluetooth earpiece, too.
Joni Blecher, editorial director of LetsTalk.com: Yes. People want to know that the person they’re talking to is really paying attention to them.
Sue Fox, founder and president of EtiquetteSurvival.com: Remember―etiquette is all about making the other person more comfortable. How comfortable could your friend be trying to talk to you when you’ve got something in your ears?
Is it rude to check your PDA at a friend’s house?
Blecher: A little bit. But if you arrive at a friend’s home and explain that you need to check a few e-mails before you visit so you can give her your full attention, she will probably understand.
Smith: It depends on how you’re using it. If you’re checking on something relevant to your visit, then no. If you find yourself perusing other e-mails, you will send the message that you’re bored.
Will Schwalbe, coauthor of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better ($14, amazon.com): Think of your PDA as a crossword puzzle. Anywhere it’s acceptable to work on a crossword puzzle, it’s OK to check your PDA.
How quickly must you respond to an e-mail? Are the standards different for work e-mails versus personal e-mails?
Schwalbe: It’s all about consistency. If you’re going to deviate from what you usually do, use your out-of-office assistant or automatic-response setting to let people know why they might not be hearing from you as quickly as they’re used to. You don’t want them to think they’ve insulted you somehow or that you are ignoring them.
Judith Kallos, oversees NetManners.com: Not responding quickly―within hours and certainly by the end of the day―to any e-mail might make the other side feel as though she’s being overlooked. It’s particularly important to respond promptly to business e-mails because that is professional and courteous.
Anna Post, technology-etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute: The sooner you can reply properly, the better. Never leave someone hanging.