Magazine article The CPA Journal

Remember Your Manners When Using Technology

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Remember Your Manners When Using Technology

Article excerpt

With the increasing use of technology, many people seem to be losing their sense of common courtesy. In a recent survey of 150 executives, 63% said that cellphone users are less polite now than they were three years ago. Following are tips and reminders for limiting the negative effects of communication technology.


Outgoing message. Because an outgoing voicemail message may be a caller's first impression of someone, the tone should be professional and the content should reflect the person's current schedule. In the event of an extended absence, the message should give a caller the option of connecting with someone else in the organization for immediate help. Encouraging callers to leave detailed messages helps prioritize the urgency of returning calls.

Incoming messages. Voicemail is not useful if callers hear that the inbox is full or if their calls are not returned in a timely manner. Checking voicemail regularly, responding to messages in a reasonable timeframe, and forwarding messages meant for others is crucially important.

Forwarding messages. A forwarded message should include a brief introduction to give the recipient appropriate context, background, or instructions on how to handle the call.

Leaving messages. Callers should identify themselves, provide a detailed message about the purpose of the call, and state contact information slowly and clearly, possibly repeating important information so the listener can write it down without needing to listen to the message again.


People should treat e-mail as seriously as they would any written correspondence by using proper grammar, salutations, and spelling. They should also think carefully before sending "flaming" e-mail messages, sending e-mail messages outside the chain of command, or forwarding someone else's potentially sensitive or confidential e-mail without their knowledge or permission.

Check frequently. As with voicemail, e-mail should be checked regularly and responded to within a reasonable timeframe. If appropriate, forward e-mails to others.

Extended-absence message. Most e-mail programs feature an automatic-reply message option that lets senders know that the addressee is unable to respond immediately. Providing alternative contacts in the automatic reply message is helpful.

The subject line. This section should provide an adequate description of the contents of the message so the recipient can prioritize messages.

User-name selection. User names for business e-mail accounts should follow common sense and be easy to remember and spell. Nonwork e-mail addresses should likewise be logical and professional enough to provide to a colleague.


Conference calls, using either audio or video, require the same respect and preparation as face-to-face meetings. To avoid confusion during a conference call with many participants, everyone should introduce themselves at the start and repeat their name when speaking.

Taking leave. Leaving a conference call in progress also calls for a brief announcement, so the remaining participants are aware and can address any final questions or comments to that person.

Privacy. Be cognizant that sensitive or private conversation may be overheard. Such discussions may be better held in person or by means of a more traditional telephone call.

Cellphones and Pagers

Most cellphones and pagers have three setting options: ring, vibrate, and off. …

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