executive and Royal etiquette, says one of the most upsetting trends she’s watched is how distracted we’ve become. Once, she was dining at a white tablecloth restaurant, when a young man came in with a beautifully dressed young woman. He texted throughout their meal and, at one point, Burnett says she had to resist giving him a lesson on the spot. “This young man had his cell in one hand and was literally shovelling the meal into his mouth with the other, texting between bites. The young woman just sat there,” she recounts. Emily Post would be horrified to see the turn social interaction has taken since the 1940s. Just because we’ve shifted platforms of communication, however, doesn’t mean the standards change. Juhli Selby is a social media marketing consultant in Victoria, though some know her as the Island’s own online etiquette coach. Selby says etiquette’s biggest cultural divide is between digital natives and digital immigrants. “With digital etiquette, it all depends on who you’re with,” says Selby. “Young people are documenting everything in real time, and people in the social media sphere have technology with them always, but not everyone else does. The guideline is, be present. The phone does not get touched when I am having a conversation.”
Selby, Burnett and Fox reiterate the same rule of thumb: don’t be first to pull out the phone. “If the person you’re with isn’t holding a device in their hand, neither should you be,” says Selby. “When someone is really present with you, it’s intoxicating. If you give someone your full attention they know it, and nothing shows more respect than that. It’s like having a super power, and here’s the secret: we all possess it.” If you are waiting for an emergency text or phone call, best practice is to let the person you’re conversing with know. Then, put your phone on vibrate and take it off the table — don’t check it every few minutes. If the matter really is that concerning, it might be better to cancel your plans. A PROPER SIGN-OFF Another digital shift is how we reach each other. Email is the new snail mail, and should be crafted with a level of professionalism. Reaching people through social media platforms can be done casually, Selby says, but should follow the “What’s In It For Me?” principle. Focus on the other person: ask a question, send a message of thanks or share something of interest to them. Chain or group messages are out of vogue, and can exhibit a tasteless attempt to build connections —
HOW FAST SHOULD YOU RESPOND TO PHONE CALLS OR EMAILS? ETIQUETTE SUGGESTS SAME-DAY OR WITHIN 24 HOURS. FOR TEXT MESSAGES, FASTER RESPONSES ARE EXPECTED.
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