Mind your BlackBerry etiquette in the workplace

"Venter," "pop-up artist" and "conference-call con" beware. Your behavior is career-killing. It's also annoying the rest of us.
Written by John Hazard, Contributor

Are you a "venter?" A "pop-up artist?" How about a "conference-call con?"

If you're not, you probably have a dozen or more in your office.

Etiquette and breaches of it have been factors in your career and employability since the first cave man offered the other cavemen meat (or fire or something of value) to join his hunting party. Technology has made those breaches more likely to occur, but no easier to forgive, according to a survey and report on technology and etiquette in the workplace by the recruiting agency, Robert Half.

...these missteps can receive broad exposure -- with unhappy consequences: Three out of four (76 percent) human resources (HR) managers polled by Robert Half said technology etiquette breaches can affect a person's career prospects.

"Venter,"  "pop-up artist" and "conference-call con" beware. Your behavior is career-killing. It's also annoying the rest of us.

What is a venter "pop-up artist" and "conference-call con? To help employees and job seekers avoid the landmines, Robert Half identified the five most commonly reported ettiquett breaches tied to technology in a 58-page report on "Business Etiquette: The new rules in a digital age." The five:

  • The venter: He uses social networks and public forums to document negative situations at work.
  • The noise polluter: We all know their ring-tone because he never puts their cell phone on silent or vibrate.
  • The cryptic communicator: Uses odd or informal abbreviations, poor punctuation, and spelling and grammatical errors in e-mails and IMs.
  • The pop-up artist: The chat-fanatic who can't take the hint to cease sending incessant IM text messages.
  • The conference-call con: the multi-tasker who pretends to pay attention during teleconferences.

The breaches of etiquette are traditional, the methods of infringement are new, writes Patrick O'Grady of the Phoenix Business Journal.

The survey identified the top five breaches, which made a lot of sense even when social media was as complex as notes posted above the water cooler, where everyone gathered to go over the office gossip.

That's allegedly, of course. I've never actually seen anyone gathered around a water cooler for anything other than water. Maybe they're too busy on their BlackBerrrys and iPhones.

Technology is a tremendous assistant to your work performance and can promote your career. But tools like Facebook, Blackberries and IM offer new opportunities to stop your forward progress. Indeed, the public and eternal nature of the internet, increases the damage when you do slip.

Navigating the new etiquette, especially on social networks, requires new rules, said Nancy Rothbard, a professor of management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in a Forbes report on social networking etiquette.

...in face-to-face communications, people are much more careful about the volume and nature of the information they disclose. On the Internet, however, "there is a lot of lack of awareness--or obliviousness--about who is receiving this information."

Related content:

Editorial standards