Saturday, September 18, 2010

Heavens Knows I'm No Miss Manners

As a teenager, I worked several years in a clothing store and later in a drug store. I never met so many rude and hateful people, but thankfully most of the customers were kind and polite. I found I liked the customers who looked me in the eye and smiled. That little eye contact said, “Yes, I see you and what you’re doing is important to me.”

So whenever I go into a store or through a drive-thru I make sure to look the person in the eye and smile.

It’s amazing how easy it is to be polite. But I know I mess up sometimes. My excuses can be that I’m tired, rushed, distracted, or just plain ignorant. Whatever the excuse is I try to learn from my mistakes and listen to those who know.

Even in the writing world, we have our own etiquette. No passing manuscripts beneath restroom stalls to visiting editors. No pitching manuscripts without being asked by the agent. No bad mouthing agents or editors at conferences. You never know who can overhear.

With the many ways to communicate with each other, I believe we forget other little ways to be polite to each other, even though we’ve been told many times. Like snipping posts on emails. In effort to condense all of the emails we’re flooded with, we go on digest on our loops and people continue to leave the email their responding to or a whole digest of emails on their answers. It’s so simple to highlight and delete. In fact, YAHOO has it set up under Edit Member where you can choose Full Feature. Then when you respond to an email on a loop, it will automatically clear the other emails. Just remember to retype the same subject. That way the string will stay intact. And people don’t have to read the same emails over and over again to follow the conversation.

A newer form of etiquette is tied in with our blogs. When you send a note on a loop asking for everyone to come to your blog and read your latest post, it’s only polite to include that loop’s blog or/and website on your blog. Hey, you have an opportunity to advertise free, it’s only polite to offer the same to them. I bet you haven’t thought of that.

With Twitter and Facebook, I bet we can think of many more infractions. All new ways of being polite.

What do you see that people need to work on?


Amy DeTrempe said...

Excellent reminder. I think we get so rushed we forget to just take the time and thank someone, or hold a door open, or the elevator door, etc. I also think we really need to be careful in wording in e-mails, blog comments and such because "tone" doesn't always translate. Sometimes our words can have a negative impact instead of the positive one we intended. It has happened to me.

Kate Diamond said...

I agree with Amy. Promoting electronically means you must strike the appropriate tone with ALL of your communication.

I think it's also important to decide HOW you want to present yourself.

There's a book called "We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media." You can get it over at Who Dares Wins Publishing (Bob Mayer's company). I plan to read it soon... taking some time off from promoting, because I need to put the focus completely on WRITING.

Jeanie said...

Oh, good grief, this paralyzes me with fright! I have an absolute horror of being unintentionally rude to someone. Cyber space has opened up all new avenues of social anxiety. Yikes!

Carla Swafford said...

Oh, I know what you mean, Amy. I had a horrible experience and no matter how many happy faces I placed in the email didn't help. When want to take offense will no matter what.

Carla Swafford said...

Amen on the writing, Kate. Sometimes in the rush to do everything people say you should, the important part (writing) is forgotten.

That book does sound interesting and I like Bob Mayer.

Carla Swafford said...

Jeanie, you're so a kind and have the best sense of humor. Keep on doing like you do and you'll be fine. Hugs.

M.V.Freeman said...

You know, you are right Carla, it is so easy to be un-intentionally rude.

I remember at work when someone would send emails WRITTEN ONLY IN CAPS. I had to ask her why she was "shouting". She had no clue what she was doing.

Its always good to be aware of what and how you are saying things.

Thanks for the reminder! :-)

JoAnn said...

Great post, Carla! When someone is rude to me, I try (note I say "try") to assume they're just having a bad day. Doesn't always work. :-)

Christine said...

Hey Carla: I never thought about doing the RM blog as a part of my signature line--not out of rudeness--just didn't know I was allowed to do it. Guess what I'm adding to my sig line now? :-D

FB and Twitter make me a bit nervous. Very easy to get into trouble there. Emails can cause problems as well because you can't hear the "tone" of the voice, only "read" it and possibly misconstrue it.

Carla Swafford said...

Oh, Mary, I still have a customer who types in CAPS. I know he does it because he types with two fingers, but it always throws me off when I first open his email. Makes me feel as if he's always mad.

Carla Swafford said...

JoAnn, you are one of the most understanding people I know. Hugs.

Carla Swafford said...

Christine, I'm sorry. I guess I didn't make it clear. Let me give you an example. If I were to send an email to HOD's loop about coming to my personal blog, I would make sure to have on my blog HOD's blog address (if they had one) or in this case, their website address. You know off to the side like we do on this one for members.

Christine said...

gotcha! I actually added the website to my signature line today, but it doesn't connect the reader to the link. I am computer challenged. I will try again tomorrow. But I totally understand how that would be the best thing to do. I want to have it on my sig line in general cause we have some great contributors :-)