smart phone

In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent…

In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent, here are some pointers on how to use technology appropriately:

Techiquette For Lawyers


From: The

“Always say please and thank you.”Look people in the eye when you are speaking and listening to them.” “Don’t interrupt when another is speaking.”

For most of us, these basic rules of etiquette have been ingrained in our brains from very early in our lives. And while the legal profession is rife with professionals that don’t exercise these basic rules on a daily basis, I would venture to guess that, for the most part, lawyers know the difference between good and bad manners.

As technology and the Internet continue to invade the real-world, the courtesies and etiquette generally accepted as polite by users of technology are not quite so clear. And this should come as no surprise.
While many basic rules of business etiquette are common sense, and easily translate in the realm of “techiquette,” there are many new forms of communication to which these basic rules either don’t hold, or in the very least, need modification:

In Missing Manners for the Digital AgeDennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the evolving notion of “digital etiquette,” where people are most likely to make missteps in digital manners, and their take on guiding principles for good and polite behavior in our digital world. I encourage you to check out the podcast and see whether or not you are familiar with, agree, or disagree some of their basic rules of techiquette.

Robert Half shares some common sticky etiquette questions and tips to help tackle them:

  • Should I personalize my LinkedIn requests to connect with others?
  • How do I keep my manager from getting wind of my job search using LinkedIn?
  • Should I friend my boss or coworkers?
  • Can Facebook postings hurt my job search?
  • Should I use Facebook at work?
  • What’s the right way to decline a request to connect with someone?
  • If someone follows me on Twitter, should I automatically follow him or her back?
  • Uh oh. I sent a confidential e-mail to the wrong person. What do I do now?
  • How responsive should I be to e-mail when I’m on vacation?
  • I forgot to attach a file before sending an e-mail…again. How can I avoid this in the future?
  • How can I prevent my colleagues from scheduling conference calls over lunch?

In my experience, there is a very strong correlation between those that exhibit poor basic etiquette and poor techiquette. Coincidence? I think not. However, there are also plenty of very polite people with whom I deal that appear to make basic techiquette mistakes without knowing the rule.

As with all forms of communication technology, the rules of what is generally accepted as polite take time to develop. For example, the rules for appropriate cell phone usage, which have really only become ubiquitous in the last ten to fifteen years, are still the subject of much debate. While I venture to guess that most of us would agree that using your cell phone during dinner is just plain rude, I suspect there would be much disagreement about usage on public buses, trains, and planes.

The rapid adoption of social media has turned hundreds of millions of people into online publishers in a matter of very few years. And with this mass adoption has come, in my humble opinion, an exponential amplification of rude and unprofessional communication and conduct.

Is this due to a lack of understanding of what’s appropriate? Or is it merely a showcase for unprofessional conduct that has existed for decades? What are some of your biggest techiqutte pet peeves?


Police should embrace new trend in traffic stops, not fight it

FOX6 news recently did a story calling attention to the public’s current fixation with personally videotaping encounters with police during traffic stops.  With the proliferation of electronic handheld devices, some citizens have elected to use that videotaping capability as a way to document the actions of police officers and leverage that footage in case any inconsistencies arise in their police report.  Many of these videos have been uploaded to YouTube and are subjected to large amounts of criticism and debate.  Mixed feelings aside, the action is perfectly legal in Wisconsin.  Yet the police have been sadly unresponsive and aggressive towards this new, and seemingly invasive trend in traffic stops.

Most complaints from the police concerning this new phenomenon arrive by way of the camera becoming an impediment to their ability to properly do their job.  There are also voices being raised over the potential for handheld recording devices to act as concealment for firearms and other harmful objects that could be used against officers during traffic stops.  And of course there’s the slightly less publicized grumble that the presence of an extra camera forfeits their ability to stray from standard traffic stop protocol.  Legitimate as those concerns may be, they speak to the fact that in dealing with the sometimes-gray area between legal and illegal when it comes to video devices in these situations, the distinction still falls upon the better judgment of the police officer and does not require the law to dictate the action itself be absolutely illegal in all instances.

The burgeoning of smart phones and videotaping capabilities has irrevocably altered the way we interact with those around us.  Furthermore, the relocation of a large part of our lives to the internet, even the ones we like to think of as being private, is in full swing and shows no signs of stopping.  The police should embrace this progression, and view the home-video traffic stop movement as a great opportunity to consistently and objectively gauge the quality of their work, as well as their public image.  Similarly, the public, while being aware that turning the lens towards a police officer may eliminate the chance of driving home with a warning, ought to take the opportunity to not only keep the behavior of the police during traffic stops in check, but also their own.  A win-win scenario.

Police have themselves already been videotaping and recording traffic stops for some time. If camera-wielding citizens wish to do the same, their choice is not only encouraged by Wisconsin state law, but by the fact that the presence of an additional, unbiased perspective during traffic stops will spark the improvement of conduct in both the police and the public.