I love my techy toys. They are fun and help me stay productive. I was reminded, however, that not everyone understands or appreciates that these “toys” are real tools and that there needs to be an understanding between the techy and non-techy folks as to how these techy items are used.
I did not follow some basic rules of etiquette and my using technology was as welcome as firing up a chainsaw at a baptism.
A few weeks ago I was in an all day meeting with about 40 other people for a non-profit I have worked with for years. I have the utmost respect and interest in this group which is why I was concerned that I was labeled as “playing with my phone”, “texting during the meeting” and not “paying attention”.
While I did do some email checking and texting (multitasking – including sending a Tweet about how awesome one of the speakers was) on my hand held, I also Googled an answer to a laptop hardware problem when one of the presenters could not get her PowerPoint presentation going, typed in my meeting notes so I could share with others, searched for another answer to the question one of the presenters had – “did someone named Terry make the 1984 US Men’s Olympic Marathon Team” (answer – no) and took photos.
With the negative feedback I received, this struck me as a learning opportunity for both the techy and non-techy folks in our world. So, here are my five points for each of these two distinct cultural groups.
Techys – 5 Tips For You
1. Just because you have / use / understand how technology works does not mean you should be using your favourite toys during the entire meeting. Give your thumbs / fingers a rest.
2. Educate those around you as to what you are doing and how and why you are using technology to make your life easier. Speak in terms of “features and benefits” as opposed to “coolness and hardware specs”. Keep the nerd talk to a minimum.
3. Is it appropriate to use your laptop / hand held / etc. in the particular meeting? If there are lots of stats, interesting points, etc. then most likely using technology is fine. If it is during a video tribute for someone who is widely known and respected at the meeting – and just for fun, let’s add in that this person has died – then techy is not the way to go.
4. Offer to share your techy items with the non-techy if their not using technology may limit their ability to be effective.
5. Don’t be jerk about your love for technology.
Non-Techys – 5 Tips For You
1. Just because you do not have / use / understand how technology works does not mean the items are evil or a time waste.
2. You see someone using a piece of technology which is foreign to you ask him / her as to what they are doing and how and why they use technology to make their life easier. Ask about “features and benefits” and do not be afraid to ask the person to re-phrase if you do not understand.
3. Is it appropriate to use your pen / paper / etc. in the particular meeting? If there are just a few quick notes, then most likely using the reliable pen and paper is fine. If you are going to have to share the information on masse or perhaps a simple photo would speak volumes then most likely using technology would be better.
4. Offer to share your pen / paper with the techy if their using technology is inappropriate.
5. Don’t be a jerk about your distaste for technology.
Oh, there is a sixth one for the techy folks. If you have made a bad impression with folks you respect, work to correct that impression. It’s worth it.