Last week, I conducted a survey and received nearly 200 responses. You can see the first post on the topic here, featuring the results across the 13 questions, each of which tackled a specific “digital” situation. For each question, the respondents were asked to rate the behaviors of how people used these digital tools. Here are some of the important points that came out of further research. First, the topline results:

Overall, the average note for first 12 questions was 6.2 / 10 (the last question was more or less posed inversely to the first), showing that on balance, these habits were definitely more unacceptable than acceptable.

digital manners

Email Etiquette

  • digital etiquetteThe most unacceptable behaviour was not ever responding to your email 7.4 / 10
  • The second highest ranking bad habit was when someone puts you in a mailing list without your having opted in (7.2)
  • Answering immediately to your email is considered totally acceptable by 54% of respondents

Taken together, one can clearly see that people take their email rather seriously! Email is the most sensitive topic. A majority find that a lack of response to one’s email borderline rude; while being immediately responsive is considered very much appropriate (N.B. I note that 13% considered immediate response unacceptable, these voting top 3 boxes, i.e. 8-10). This last question (“respond immediately to your emails”) was posed in light of those who look askance at people who tend to spend too much time on emails, etc.

One on One

  • digital etiquetteIn one-on-one meetings, answering one’s smartphone is considered totally unacceptable for one quarter of the respondents. The average (6.8) shows that answering the phone in a meeting is considered a little more unacceptable than consulting one’s smartphone (6.4).  When looking at the top 3 scores, the places are actually reversed, with consulting the smartphone reaching 47.5% (who voted 8 to 10) versus answering the phone at 46%.
  • At meals, use of the phone in general is less offensive than in a meeting. That was quite a surprise to me, considering the more personal element of eating together. At meals, answering the phone ranked at 6.3 while consulting the smartphone received a 5.8 rating. The gap closed sharply in terms of top 3 votes (8-10). Looking at the distribution, in fact, consulting one’s smartphone at a meal was the behavior that received the most even answers across the scale (between 6% and 14%).

Taken together, there is a decidedly poor reception when the other person at the meeting or at the dining table looks at or answers the phone. From observation, when one caves in to the temptation once, the proverbial seat belt is undone and the phone sits on the table rather than going back to where it belongs — out of site.

In Public Places

The third class of questions concerned digital etiquette in public (transport or in the streets).

  • Using the keyboard click sounds garnered the fourth highest rating at 6.5, although ranked only as 6th= in terms of the top 3 rating.
  • Walking with your head down scored slightly above average at 6.3 overall.
  • There was considerable ambivalence to use of the phone in public transport, rating 4.7 on average. In fact, 12% believe that talking on the phone in public transport is perfectly acceptable.

Taken as whole, the way people use the mobile in public places could certainly be a cause for strife.

Social (media) manners

The last category of questions revolved around social media. Naturally, as above, this was not a definitive list. I had one question specifically about Facebook and another on LinkedIn.

  • People who like their own posts on Facebook received a 6.2 average unacceptability, yet 10% found the practice completely acceptable.
  • The liberal invitations to connect on LinkedIn have their detractors, scoring 6.1 on average. However, this behavior was scored relatively evenly across the ten numbers, scoring in a range of 4% to 15%.
  • The over-usage of acronyms and hashtags (that could otherwise be considered potentially too geeky and/or juvenile) scored 5.3 overall. The distribution across 1 to 10 was in a tight band of 4% to 13%

Taken together, the faux pas in social media are considered less offensive overall.

Please let me know any questions or thoughts you might have as a result! And I hope that you will be keen to help improve our digital etiquette! We need to lead by example, starting with myself!

Please read and share this manifesto for better mobile manners! Share on X

Pin It on Pinterest