Changing Etiquette Rules in the Age of Connectivity

On September 30, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

In the age of connectivity, the rules of etiquette have either gotten more complex or have been thrown out all together. In social situations these days, you are often flooded with phone calls, texts, emails, updates from Twitter, Facebook, or other various other social media feeds. It may seem like common sense to turn off your cell phone or perhaps silence it in social settings, but some people don’t realize that they aren’t giving you their full attention when they say the alert from their phone will “only take a second.” Here are several examples of connectivity faux pas and tips to avoid making them.

Phones at the Dinner Table – We were taught as children not to interrupt people when they are speaking, yet more and more people don’t consider texting or answering their phone as an interruption. Anytime your attention is diverted from the person you are with it is an interruption.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Excuse yourself from the table if you need to take an urgent call.
  • If you know you will be distracted and curious if your phone alerts you of a text, take a preventive step and turn it off.
  • For dinners lasting longer than an hour, you could suggest the table take a “cell phone break” for those who need or want to check their emails or messages.

Loud Phone Calls in Public Places – Exposing other individuals to your personal life is definitely a social faux pas. While you’re in a public place you may not realize how quiet the space is or how loudly you are talking, but the people around you do.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Silence your phone and do not answer it
  • If you need to answer the call, step away to a secluded area to take it and tell the caller that their call is important and you will call them back in x amount of minutes.
  • If you must take the phone call and you are waiting in line, ask the person behind you to hold your spot and quickly go take your call.

Becoming Overly Dependent on Digital Communication – When email is the easiest people can connect with you, you may become dependant on your email at all times. This can lead to becoming disconnected in face-to-face social situations, as you will feel the need to check your internet enabled device anytime it alerts you to an incoming message.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Make the most of face-to-face communications.
  • Make your phone to be the best way to get a hold of you over email or texting.
  • Resist the urge to respond to email immediately, wait to check it after you leave your social engagement.

It’s up to us to be aware and realize when we are invading other‘s space or ignoring our companions because we are too connected. Hopefully following some of these etiquette rules will help us take advantage of face-to-face communications that are happening less often in this age of connectivity. Can you think of other social faux pas that occur due to digital communication? If so, let us know!

 

Tips on how to network

On September 28, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Though Social Media has made much of professional networking a remote act, the primary way that businesspeople connect on a personal level is through face to face networking. Knowing how to network effectively is important, no matter what level of business you operate at. Here are some key tips to help you find success in any networking situation. Keep in mind, networking doesn’t always mean going to a networking event. These skills can be useful during a conversation at the water cooler, at the grocery store, or any social instance.

You’re There to Give, Not Get

    It’s easy to confuse a detailed monologue with meaningful conversation. When successfully networking, try changing your mindset. You should do your best to contribute to the conversation in a constructive way. Give more speaking time to your conversation partner and allow them to be heard. This will help you develop a quick bond that will make the conversation partner feel treasured, which will increase the effectiveness of your networking attempts.

Don’t Appear Desperate

    Whether you’re on a date or at a networking event, neediness is never a desired trait. Remember, your main goal is to contribute a sense of appreciation to the person with whom you are having a conversation. If you are constantly asking for a referral from a business representative, much like constantly asking for the number of someone you’ve just met, you’re likely to not get it. Have confidence in who you are, and approach the situation knowing what you have to offer.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

    Try and stay away from “yes” or “no” questions. Leave room for elaboration and let whomever you are speaking with feel the freedom to say all they need or want to in order to adequately express themselves. Many questions can be phrased differently to avoid making the answer one worded. For example, asking, “do you have any kids?” could be rephrased as “tell me about your family.” The second phrasing asks for the same information, but allows the responder the liberty to tell you as little or as much as they want.

    Networking is all about staying comfortable and maintaining sincere conversations. For more tips, check out this article.

 

Retaining Customers when Making Service Changes

On September 23, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Companies need to alter their service plans from time to time and the change usually comes as a surprise to  their consumers. These transitions can go smoothly or not so smoothly, depending on how the transition is handled.

The way in which Netflix handled its recent service changes is a perfect example of this type of news being received poorly. Netflix decided to separate their services, DVD-by-mail and streaming, and raise their prices significantly for both. Customers viewed the execution of the change as abrupt and confusing. In the brief time since the initial announcement, many of Netflix’s subscribers have canceled their accounts altogether. In fact, the number was considerably more than Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, was expecting.  In effort to apologize for the way Netflix handled the reorganization announcement, Hastings emailed all subscribers and posted a letter on the Netflix blog. He acknowledged that he “… messed up. [And owes] everyone an explanation,” but then continued to announce yet another change!  Netflix is separating the services even further into Qwikster, for DVD-by-mail, while the streaming services will remain as Netflix. This surprise did not have the desired effect and in fact elicited even more backlash. We will have to wait and see how Netflix deals with this new PR debacle and they may be realizing that sometimes an apology isn’t enough.

AT&T changed their services in late June, getting rid of their unlimited data plan, and announcing tiered pricing. This upset a lot of people, but AT&T had a plan. People whom already had unlimited data plans on their phones remained grandfathered into the service. This quelled what may have been a drastic reduction of customers, as it only affected new customers and not those already using the service they were changing.

Regardless of why companies change the service they offer, the transition time is turbulent. When executing a massive change, companies should develop a plan of action for informing the public to minimize any backlash. Here are some strategies that companies should consider when implementing major change.

  • Notice, and Lots of It:  Give the public plenty of notice and utilize a forum where customers, particularly those directly affected, can express questions and concerns.
  • Grandfathered Services:  Honor services and prices current clients have prior to the change.
  • Details:  Explain the change in detail! The more transparent you are with your announcement, the more your clients will trust your decision.
  • Discounts: Offer a free month of service or some other type of coupon if clients take advantage of multiple services

If you have any more ideas of ways companies could make the news of service plan changes easier, we’d love to hear from you!

 

What not to do at work

On September 14, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Paying close attention to detail and keeping your workspace tidy are both examples of good habits to form in the office, proof that habits can be a very helpful working tool. Although, there are some habits that should be avoided, even if they seem helpful. Research shows that it takes a minimum of 21 days to break out of a bad habit. Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid forming those habits all together? Here are a few bad habits that are easy to fall into, as well as a few suggestions on how to proactively avoid them.

Working Through Lunch

    Let’s face it, sometimes work can get hectic. We’ve all wished for more hours in the day and sometimes use our lunch hour to gain that much needed extra hour. That mid-day break provides the down time you need during the day that can help you be more productive in the afternoon. Sometimes working through lunch is unavoidable, so make sure to avoid forming the habit. Try giving yourself strict boundaries the help protect your lunchtime.

Idealizing

    We all know how easy it is to idealize a dream job we don’t yet have. Even if that job is something likely unattainable, like working as an actor or being a professional ice cream taster, we all like to think about how it would make life better. This is a very bad habit to fall into, because it makes enjoying your current position very difficult. Instead, try thinking of all the good things your job provides for you, such as money to pay your bills or even free coffee. Taking pleasure in simple and small joys will help you find happiness all of the time.

Work Time Distractions

    Most of us spend our workdays in front of a computer. With all of the wonderful distractions on the Internet, it’s easy to waste an entire morning with YouTube videos and flash-based games. To avoid forming this bad habit, try scheduling “mini-breaks” to enjoy a small distraction, perhaps after completing a large project or working for a large chunk of time.

    Bad habits can be challenging to break; it is much easier to avoid them all together. The next time you find yourself tempted to form any of these bad habits, take a moment to consider what positive habit you could form instead.

 

The Influence of the Tablet

On September 9, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

The rapidly evolving world of technology has changed the way we do business. Not long ago we used to have to use a manual press to make an imprint of credit cards for you to purchase something? Now thank to wireless Internet and tablets, we can run a credit card purchase practically anywhere in the world.

Tablets have changed a lot more than our purchasing ease and mobility. Many people have fundamentally changed their businesses thanks to tablets. The following companies use tablets in such interesting and innovative ways it might surprise you.

New York City’s West Village is home to De Santos a high-end Italian restaurant where the wait staff uses iPad 2s. Orders are taken and credit cards are swiped all on the iPads. The owners hope that this will minimize human mistakes and streamline the ordering process.

At Puma stores in Asia, Africa, and Europe, customers can use iPad stations called The Creative Factory to design their own sneakers and share them with people around the world. They can also view designs from other creators. Puma’s goal is to connect the world through active footwear.

The DeKalb Market in Brooklyn has a new addition called SHOPBOX. People can shop at SHOPBOX but it has no store clerks and no storefront! SHOPBOX is composed of shipping containers with an iPads mounted on the ends. Shoppers register on the iPads then text the item number they wish to purchase to the phone number that is printed on the glass on each SHOPBOX. The item is then shipped to a location of their choice. This definitely redefines window-shopping!

As tablet technology improves more innovative uses will be developed. It’s not unthinkable to imagine having a wait staff may be obsolete in the future or that generations to come have no use for a mall. Change is the nature of the world and it seems the more advanced we become, the faster things change. So let’s sit back and watch things become easier due to technology and one day we might just get those hovercrafts promised in science fiction movies.

 

Write the ideal email

On September 7, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Most of us publish several emails every day, to our friends, clients, coworkers and employers. It’s important to note that how we write these emails communicates more than we might realize. Taking time to choose your words carefully is important in order to avoid any embarrassing miscommunication. What would your boss think if you ended an email with “Love?” Here are some tips on determining proper email language.

Opening an Email  

Informal

Composing a message to a close friend is best done in an informal tone. When writing an informal message, you don’t need to use much more than the recipient’s name. Even a simple “Hi,” will communicate a relaxed tone and let the reader know the email they are looking at is from a close acquaintance.

Formal

Use this tone when writing an email to a coworker or employee, someone with whom you are acquainted but also professional. Consider opening your email with “Dear,” followed by the recipient’s name or a more formal greeting such as “Good afternoon” or “Good evening.” This communicates that you respect the reader but are also approaching them with a tone of familiarity.

Respectful

When writing to a higher institution, like a prospective employer, make sure and open your email with a bit more formality. Generally, you’d use this tone if the receiver were someone you were not previously familiar with. The best opening in this case is “To whom it may concern.” Using this opening communicates respect to the reader.
 
Closing an Email  

Informal

Again, when writing to someone with whom you share a close personally history, you can end the email by simply writing your name or “Love,” followed by your name. This is informal and lets the reader know that you meant the message to be a romantic one.

Formal

End a formal email with “Sincerely,” or “Yours truly.” This is not as informal as closing with just your name, but it also communicates some kind of personal relationship. This is the best tone to use when corresponding professionally with someone you work with on a regular basis.

Respectful

Ending a professional and respectful email in the proper tone is very important. As in a formal tone, you may end the message with “Sincerely,” or even “Regards.” Both should adequately communicate respect. However, if the content of the message calls for it, ending with “Thank you for your time,” lets the reader know you are grateful for the time they’ve spent reading your message.

    Communicating the correct message is all a matter of vocabulary, so when composing your next email make sure to use the right words to communicate your desired message. This will help ensure that your friends don’t fear that you’ve become melancholy drone or lead your boss to believe you’ve become a hopeless romantic. Choose the right words so that you send the right message.

 

Amusing Lawsuits from the Tech Industry

On September 2, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Usually when people file lawsuits it’s very serious business, but every so often lawsuits are filed that are rather ridiculous. Below are a few intriguing and amusing tech industry lawsuits which have been filed in the last ten years.

Allergic to Pentium? – In 2002, a Dutch woman tried to sue Intel and her government because she believed that her Pentium processor gave her hives. The 486-base processor didn’t cause her harm and her case never went to the courts. Apparently, no court was “itching” to take her case.

A Woman Lead into Danger by Google? – In 2009, Google was sued by a woman who was hit by a car on a dark narrow highway that did not have pedestrian paths. She blamed Google because she was just following the walking directions they gave her. A judge dismissed her case and Google “dodged” the lawsuit.

Star Wars Galaxies Killed by Sony! – In 2010, angry fans of Star Wars Galaxies filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony for shutting down the game. The MMORPG had had a steadily decreasing subscribership for several years.  I guess the “force” was not strong enough to sustain the game, the fans, or the case.

Failed Mafia Wars Romance Ends With a Lawsuit – A woman sued a man over for damages from their broken Mafia Wars romance. After meeting and falling in love over the Facebook game, Mafia Wars, the woman spent thousands of dollars on game credits and gifts for her new love interest. After the relationship ended, she sued him for the money spent. Both the relationship as well as the case are now “sleeping with the fishes.”

I hope these unbelievable tech lawsuits made you smile. If you have heard of any more, please share them with us by leaving a comment here or on one of our other social media accounts!