Five Job Mistakes Never to Make

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High-Tech Office Etiquette

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Don't let modern technology hinder
your work performance.

Every amazing advance in technology offers a new way to set back a career. "All of these things are wonderful tools, but so is a chain saw," says career enhancement and workplace etiquette expert Marjorie Brody, president of Brody Communications, Inc., in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. "If you don't use them properly, they can be dangerous." Brody coaches clients to handle the following gadgets with care:

  • E-mail may be less formal than a letter, but it's still a written reflection of you. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and save sensitive info for the phone. Also, many businesses privately monitor employees' usage. You might be penalized for sending too many personal notes or divulging confidential company news.
  • Laptops may be essential for business trips, but they also hold essential company data. Shield private files from fellow travelers.
  • Voice mail messages should be specific, yet concise. Brody once coached a lawyer whose firm wouldn't make him partner until he learned the art of verbal editing.
  • Speakerphone use is acceptable only during group meetings or brief hands-full interludes. Otherwise, at best, it says, "You're not important enough for me to speak to privately." At worst, the caller might be overheard by the wrong people.
  • Cell phones should be turned off during meetings, period. Brody knows of a woman who took a call from a client while she was in the bathroom stall. The client heard everything. "She flushed that deal down the toilet."


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