Email Manners

What Ever Happened to Being Polite in the Professional World?

May 7, 2007

I read a short column in the Economy section of the local paper yesterday about reading email in meetings. It appears to be a re-print of Checking Email During Meetings: Faux Pas? from SmartPros in late April.

The gist of the article is that if you are going to check email in a meeting, expect that some people won't approve, and be discreet about it.

This just demonstrates people's lack of basic manners anymore. Honestly. Don't take your email device into the meeting.

Use of your phone, email, or messaging device is not only rude and discourteous to the presenter, it is rude and distracting to the other people in the meeting. If you have some email message that is so important that you can't wait until after the meeting to get it and respond, then respectfully bow out of the meeting. If "I have to wait for an email," is not a sufficient excuse to miss the meeting, then the email is not important enough to disrupt the meeting.

This is along the lines of people presenting at a meeting who don't bother to log out of their annoying messenger (IM) clients. Really? Come on, if the meeting (and your presentation) are so unimportant that you can't be bothered to log out, why are you wasting other people's time with either?

The same goes for your email notifications. log out of your email client before starting your presentation, or don't bother with the presentation.

If you're the presenter, then you have a reason to have your machine in the room, but it you're not, your machine would probably be better off out of the room, not annoying the presenter and other people. If you're the presenter, log out of any system that will give you an alert for the duration of the meeting, and if you loan someone your machine to do their presentation (not everyone has a laptop, even in the business world), do them the courtesy of logging out of your distracting systems before they begin their presentation.

It's like cell phones in movie theaters. Turn the damn thing off when you enter the building - or, better yet, leave it in the car. That text message or phone call can wait until after the movie. And that email or IM can wait until after the meeting.