If someone calls you, can you e-mail the person back or send a text message? What if you text or e-mail someone and the person calls you back?
Pier M. Forni, author of The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude ($9.50, amazon.com): Unless the person has requested something specific or you sense a tinge of urgency, there’s nothing uncivil about replying with a “Can we talk later?” text message.
Schwalbe: Think about what is the best way to respond. If someone called you to get directions somewhere, for instance, reply via e-mail so you can send along a map.
Blecher: If you text someone because you don’t want to talk and the person calls back, don’t answer. If you do answer, the other person will sense your foul mood immediately and might get offended. Just text back that you can’t talk now but will call later. Your friend will thank you.
Is using BCC (blind carbon copy) on an e-mail sneaky?
Schwalbe: Yes, and it’s dangerous too, because your BCC can be exposed if the blind recipient hits Reply All or forwards the e-mail to someone else. To protect yourself from this, forward the message separately with an explanation.
Kallos: Using it to make someone look bad or e-tattle on someone is not appropriate. BCC is best used to protect your contacts’ e-mail addresses from being exposed to strangers.
Smith: BCC can be sneaky but also useful. If you feel that an e-mail discussion you had could turn into a larger issue, you could BCC your boss to make her aware of the situation. Just don’t inundate her with copies of every e-mail you send.
Is it OK to talk on your cell phone when you’re ordering food, getting your hair, banking, etc.?
Blecher: It’s rude to talk on the phone when you’re interacting with others―no matter who they are.
Post: No. And don’t forget about the people around you―they will hear your conversation.
Smith: You should treat everyone with common decency and respect. So don’t do it to anyone.
How do you end a time-consuming e-mail exchange?
Schwalbe: When the pings back and forth have gone to one word, that means the conversation is over. If you’re getting too many e-mails, it might mean you’re sending too many.
Smith: If it’s a good friend, tell her it’s been great chitchatting but you have to go. If it’s a client who is a friend, tell her you have to get back to work but would love to catch up when you see her next.
Forni: First remind yourself that your time is just that―yours. Then say, for example, “Linda, I would love to chat, but I have back-to-back meetings today and need to get to work.”