To Text or Not to Text

Is texting bad for your pofessional image?

I was at a special event listening to a dynamic guest speaker when I found myself distracted. Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone at the next table busily texting away. I was shocked to see who the rude person was… it was the president of the host organization.

Sneak a peek

After he had finished introducing the speaker, the second he sat down he started checking his blackberry and texting. He wasn’t just sneaking a quick peek, this was right out there near the front of the room and went on for the entire presentation. No kidding! What was he thinking etiquette wise?

Leading by example?

Now I happen to know this person. He’s a pleasant business professional but he’s also inadvertently rude. Looking around the room, I could see that others had noticed his ‘lack of discretion’. I’m sure some of the attendees were thinking, well he’s got a lot on his plate – he needs to multi-task to get everything done. And unfortunately they would take their cue from him and assume this is how to behave. Standard operating procedure for business etiquette.

Is everyone losing their mind?

I expect others were cringing like me and embarrassed for the president and for the speaker as well. Picture yourself as the speaker at the podium. Would you find the texting distracting? Disrespectful? Rude? Would it put you off your game? I know it would throw me! What if everybody in the room decided to pull out their blackberries at the same time. You’d think they had all lost their minds.

Tactful texting tip

Nothing is ever so important that it couldn’t wait until break time. If you’re expected to deal with an urgent matter, our advice is to text discretely or leave the room.

Excuse me while I ignore you

In our business etiquette seminars we actively encourage discussions and offer tips around the proper use of technology. We need to control it, not have it control us. Our advice is that the person in front of you should always be treated like an honored guest and have your undivided attention. Sure in meetings, there will be times when you need to or are expected to pull out your Blackberry to confirm data and book appointments, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Text book case

We’re finding that common courtesy is not so common anymore. When people at the top are behaving poorly, it demonstrates a lack of judgment, certainly not the leadership qualities we want to promote. Lead by example. Display the text traits you want your organization to follow.

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Posted by Joanne Blake – The Etiquette and Personal Image Expert

About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

  1. Ardre,
    You are so right. We do role model behaviour and kids (as well as adults) will lead through our example. The work that you are doing is so important. Keep up the good work.

  2. Linda, I’m glad that my blog post was instrumental in being more self aware. And as your friend and colleague I’ll be sure to remind you if you slip into any bad habits….gently.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I believe that we only do what we are trained to do. At this time, we are training our children that this behavior is appropriate. I have started a foundation to teach etiquette to girls starting at a young age. It is our hope to retrain a new generation of leaders and professionals that are in touch with their ability to engage in genuine interaction in which the attention is focused where it should be, the true exchange of information. Thank you for making us mindful.

  4. This blog is a great reminder of how easily we slip into ‘crackberry’ mode…and I’m sitting here guilty as charged. I hate it when others ignore those they are in a ‘real life’ conversation with for a quick look at their ‘crackberry’ and yet I can recall two or three times in the past month when I have done exactly the same thing. Thanks for the reminder….and I’m announcing to the world- if I do that in your company, remind me of this response please!

  5. Most of us encounter rudeness all over the place and 90% of it is unintentional. People are just not aware of how they are coming across. I think we can learn from the bad as well as the good and try to ensure we don’t “dis” others.

  6. Hi Joanne and Terry, I ride the city transit and recently and have become quite chummy with one of the drivers. Last week when chatting with me he was quickly distracted and drew his attention to his hand held device, ignoring me. What I really should have done was find a seat at the back of the bus away from him and perhaps he would have gotten the message regarding his rudeness. At any rate love your website and have learned so much, keep on informing the world on your knowledge!

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