Etiquette and Technology
Contributed by staff writer Amanda Fraraccio
In June, we mentioned that technology is both essential to and potentially damaging in the workplace. Technology has increased speed and efficiency, improved coordination and connectivity, and increased consistency. There are also technology hazards. We can avoid some of those pitfalls with increased awareness and a few interpersonal tools.
Electronic communication can be faster. However, emails can be lost or routed to spam, and texts sometimes don’t reach their destination in a timely manner or at all. To prevent consequences from these errors, follow up by phone or personal conversation, especially with time-sensitive or very important matters. (McQuerrey, 2018)
Technology demands attention. The time-saving advantages are often outweighed by the constant distraction, such as Skype and phone calls in surrounding cubicles, constant emails, ringing phones, (Nestor-Harper, 2018). How can you overcome these daily distractions in the workplace? Put your personal technology away except for designated breaks, use headphones to mitigate noise in cubical situations, turn off audible alerts, or work entirely offline when possible (Smith, 2013).
Loss of Interpersonal Communication Skills
Cell phones, email, texting and social media have largely replaced face-to-face communications. While this has improved efficiency, it has also created a deficit in interpersonal communication skills, which are critical to building business relationships. They require courtesies and listening skills not necessary in social media (Nestor-Harper, 2018). One way to avoid this hazard is for companies to have defined communication protocol. Some examples include a policy on sending group and individual emails, providing regular status reports distributed to entire work groups, and having regular face-to-face project meetings. Creating a system of communication checks and balances can mitigate problems. (McQuerrey, 2018)
Relationship conflicts do not occur as often when teams work remotely or individually in office settings, because people are more focused on their own tasks instead of office politics. However, the lack of face-to-face contact can increase task-related disputes. Many people have experienced a situation in which emails, with a valid workplace issue, became a personal grudge because of perceived “tone”. One strategy for keeping task related issues from becoming personal conflict is to utilize an online discussion board in a shared virtual workspace. When managed correctly, this forum can keep issues from festering. It can allow team members to take their time and offer input after conducting research, instead of feeling pressured to answer immediately. It can also eliminate the pressure to agree with others that sometimes occurs face to face (Ferrazi, 2012).
Technology has made it possible to conduct business at a rapid pace and across the globe. It has brought us remarkable tools for communication and advances for the good of humankind. By becoming more aware of the potential pitfalls and working toward solutions, it is possible to increase your marketability and stay at the top of your game and out of the fray.
Ferrazi, K. (2012, November 19). How to manage conflict in virtual terms. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2012/11/how-to-manage-conflict-in-virt
McQuerrey, L. (2018, April 5). How does a lack of communication cause conflict in a workplace. Retrieved from azcentral.com: https://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/lack-communication-cause-conflict-workplace-9430.html
Nestor-Harper, M. (2018, March 28). Disadvantages of technology in the workplace. Retrieved from Chron: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/disadvantages-technology-workplace-20157.html
Smith, J. (2013, June 20). How to Deal with 10 Common Workplace Distractions. Retrieved from Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45ekehi/audible-email-alerts-2/#67d715ca66d8