Pet Peeve- Reply All; Digital Etiquette Matters

It happens too often; you get an email sent to multiple people setting up a meeting or providing information about something. There’s always one person who hits ‘reply all.’ How many times does that ‘reply all’ message just read “Thanks.” replyallOr worse – is a long message about why they can’t make the meeting because they have to pick their young son up from soccer, then run their daughter to piano lessons, then they have to go food shopping. I hear you yelling, “WHO CARES?” Well, making excuses is another topic; for now, back to the ‘reply all.’

In my business communications class at Rutgers-Camden there are a myriad of topics we discuss. It seems that the ‘reply all’ conundrum is something that continues to be a problem. Why is it that in this age of digital messages many of us can not train ourselves to be more attentive to replying to emails?

Compare this mistake to back in the day when you actually called someone on the phone rather than send an email. Would you just call the person holding the meeting to let them know you couldn’t make it – or would you call everyone involved? well, of course – just the team leader needs to know you couldn’t be there.

How do you stop from accidentally replying to EVERYONE on an email list? Simply breathe; take your time. Pay closer attention to what you are doing. If you are completely rushed – step AWAY from the keyboard. As my mom used to tell me all the time, “Watch what you’re doing.”

This ‘reply all’ problem is complicated when you reply to emails on your Smart phone. Everything is smaller and not exactly change-wp7-email-signaturethe same as your computer keyboard. All the more reason to TAKE-YOUR-TIME. Make a rule of thumb: don’t reply to emails while you are in the car at red lights. WAIT until you have a few moments to concentrate on your digital etiquette.

Another pet peeve: be sure you have a businesslike email signature on your Smart phone, tablet or iPad. Do you really have to advertise that you wrote the message on your Samsung phone? Go into ‘settings’ and set up your email signature properly with your name, title, etc. DELETE the advertisement for the type of phone you have.

Just like when we were little and we were taught to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ it’s time to learn more digital etiquette.

The Written Word

The Written Word

When your children and your children’s children go through the family things some day, what will they find? Perhaps not our generation, but surely our children’s generation one thing that will not be passed down is the written word.

oldlettersOver the weekend, I hauled into the house from an old desk stored in the garage, a drawer filled with my life. Most of what was stowed away for years was from the early years in my radio career, but I also discovered high school memorabilia I thought was long gone – and frankly, I hadn’t even thought about it for decades. What I found that was most meaningful, were cards and letters from friends and family members.

There’s a letter from my ‘mom-mom’ who died in 1995. The letter is dated December 31, 1981. She tucked into the note another note that she received from a niece of my late grandfather. She listened to me on the radio back then and was so glad to have that connection. My grandmother wrote how proud she was of me.

A letter from my elementary school gym teacher dated November 10, 1981 wrote of how he and my other two favorite teachers had formed a ‘fan’ club and how they too, were listening to me on WMGK and were proud. I found letters from radio fans who talked about their lives and how connected they felt listening to me and the people I worked with. Most important were all the letters my brother wrote me when he was in the Air Force. This was in the early to mid 1980’s. These letters are particularly significant because my brother suffered a life-changing accident during his time in the Air Force and lost the use of his right arm. The letters he wrote before the accident describe his homesickness as well as the fun he was having seeing other places and meeting new people. He ultimately me his wife – and they lived happily ever after. But it was emotional for me to read the handwriting he had before the accident. He learned how to use his left hand and has done extremely well over the past 20+ years.

What will the next generation have to look through when they look at their history? Emails, documents, blog posts like this, a Google search. The written word – putting pen to paper – is often from our hearts and minds. The physical act of writing, not typing, is somehow therapeutic.¬† While writers today do indeed express themselves well by typing words, too often a majority of people so dislike writing that they shorten everything down. “R u going 2nite? OMG me 2. C u l8tr.”

When I work with clients and we are able to get media coverage, I always encourage them to write a ‘thank you’ to the reporter. If they want to type out an email, that’s OK, but looking at these files of handwritten cards I have – many of then ‘thank yous,’ I am so incredibly glad I’m a little bit of a pack rat. For me, there’s nothing like a personal card that someone had to choose or just find that blank sheet of paper to write a thoughtful few lines or more to offer their thanks.

The letters from my grandmother and my brother and some friends are a part of me. They describe personal history that was going on back then and how they were interwoven in my life. My grandmother has been gone for years, but to read these letters I found makes me know that she was a part of me – and I of her. I can hear her laughing right now – probably after telling a dirty joke.

Consider writing a card the next time you need to get in touch with someone. It’s worth the time and effort; and on the other end of that card, there is probably a friend, family member, colleague or someone you listen to, who will tuck that card in a file for safe keeping.

 

My Prerogative

Bobby Brown made “My Prerogative” a huge hit in the 80’s. Then there was the whole Whitney Houston marriage debacle and well, you know how it ended. Not pretty. The point is, we rise; we fall. For most of us who lead lives that do not warrant celebrity status, we survive the falls and learn from them.

pistoriusNow, Oscar Pistorious, who probably gets the 2013 award (so far) for how the mighty fall, is out of jail on bail. His next hearing is JUNE. Do you believe it will take five months for the next hearing to take place in this case? Guaranteed, come June, we’ll see more courtroom photos and video of the prized Olympic fallen star weeping into his hands. Guilty or not, somehow, he’ll come through this terrible tragedy.

For you and I, we trip over ourselves; screw up and with absolutely no fanfare, pick ourselves up and start all over again (strike up the band). Mundane dilemmas such as losing the cell phone and finding it again; then Verizon messing up and deactivating your found cell phone. Test results showing no, your hip replacement device is not lethal – just not yet – you’ll have to wait a while to see if it becomes lethal. These are the things that on some level – you and I deal with every day. No one notices; the cameras do not roll and our lives go on.

I talked to a neighbor today who has ripped the ACLs in both knees and one meniscus. She’s going through some painful physical therapy but knows she’ll have to have surgery on both knees at some point. We live in limbo week-to-week. We just don’t know what good and bad will come of just about anything we do.

The good news is – most of us are survivors. We pick ourselves up; dust ourselves off and simply move on. And that my friends is how our lives are meant to be. No cameras; no You Tube; no recording. We live and learn – and move on. My prerogative is to be sad and frustrated and then get over it on my own terms and hope that everyone around me understands. And if they don’t – well, life will indeed go on.

Today’s News is Yesterday’s Video (or Worse)

News is an event or issue happening in your world that affects many people. At least that’s what I thought was news – and what I was taught was news back in the day. I suppose I became old school because I still believe news should be something many people can care about or something that many people should know about. Issues and happenings that are significant in many people’s lives.

Now, it seems news is what happens to someone’s cat – or dog – or happy baby or on a dash-cam. Since news organizations have cut staffs to the bone, there are fewer and fewer stories – especially locally that affect people’s lives. At least on TV news, much of the time is spent telling you about celebrity news, what will be on that TV station tonight (almost always entertainment) and what fantastic video has shown up on You Tube or via some other internet channel.

NBC News today has broadcast dash-cam video from a New Jersey transit bus versus schoolsiegalbuscrashwebpkg_. whatever happened to the immediacy of news? Yes, the video was probably just released but the only reason the video is ‘news’ today is that NBC or any other news organization has found it. You know the saying “it’s like watching a train wreck?” Well, that is what this and all other video like it is all about. We are human, we can’t stop watching train wrecks. That’s why the Kardashians and Lindsey Lohan and any other bad boy/girl celebrity gets so much coverage.

News organizations used to be leaders. The hard-working staffs (still today) work like the dickens to write, produce, record news that the bosses tell them to put together. Many of the news stories are credible and interesting to a vast majority of people. But the tide turned about 20 years ago with the influx of infotainment programming. Now with instant news coverage and the pressure to get the pictures quickly, there is a lot of nonsense in news.

Len Berman used to do a TV sports segment that was hilarious; he showed all kinds of sports video of amazing shots, sports bloopers and such. He always had one crazy shot with people and things colliding and he would exclaim, “And nobody got hurt.” For a morning TV show, that was enough fun and games. It was a break from reality. Now it seems, the news reality is showing the insipid video from some child’s birthday party or something carved directly from You Tube.

KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia still does the news straight. No antics; perhaps a little too much jingle music AND they still have that crazy old-fashioned ticker. On that station, I get the news. Yes, there’s NPR and they do an honorable, creative and credible job, but for several reasons, I don’t listen often.

For now, the OFF button is where I go when the news is all about nothing that affects my life – or the lives around me. I’ll still watch, read and listen, but enough with the baby-cat-bus crash video.

Make Something of Yourself

Education has to be a priority in this nation and around the world. It seems one of the first budget cuts made when collegegradgovernments have to belt-tighten are education  programs and programs for the poor.

Fast-forward to college and a tuition bill is eye-popping. Unless you start saving for each child at birth (if you can), a student will be scratching and clawing for every scholarship, grant or loan dollar he or she can find. Now, some U.S. governors are picking and choosing who should get tuition breaks. Check out this column by LZ Granderson.

The costs for higher education are staggering. Something must be done – but what? Will our children have that hard-earned degree and nothing to show for it but

enormous debt?

Positive Means More Than Negative

Positive Means More Than Negative

Being interviewed for many people means being in a pressure cooker. The stress can often overwhelm even the coolest of people. Whether you are talking with a human resources manager or a reporter, it’s important to balance poise with being yourself and showing yourself in a positive light.

postivesmileWhen a reporter is interviewing a news-maker, the reporter is going for the sound bite. He or she wants information, yes, but he or she wants that information explained¬† in a captivating way. Face it, you don’t want to read in the newspaper, online or see on TV or hear on the radio that “My company is the best at everything.” The reporter wants to know what’s really going on behind those closed doors. The news-maker may be asked, “What’s it been like to work in a company that’s had so much turmoil in the past few months?” The response should be thoughtful – yet provide good information and a good sound bite for the reporter and the public. Something like this could work: “This has been a challenging time for the company. There have been moments when we didn’t think the company would make it – but we have gotten through what we hope is the worst of these challenges and we’re moving forward.” There might be more details in a real scenario – but it’s important to stay away from negativity. The second you say something negative, that is what will be pounced on. That negative comment could end up being the lead of the story.

In a job interview situation, the human resources person or the manager interviewing you also wants to see that you can handle challenging situations with style and grace. take the positive approach when they ask the probing questions. “Why did you leave your last position?” You sure don’t want to go down the negative route here. This surely can be a tough question if you left the position in less than desirable terms. This answer you can surely plan.

  • During my time at that company I really got to expand my knowledge in the industry. Now, it’s time for me to take on a new challenge.
  • I really feel as though I excelled in many aspects of my position. During the changeover in management, I adapted to the new leadership styles and really am confident I held my own during that challenging period.

Sure, these are positive ways to say negative things; it’s really important to show that YOU can be positive. Sometimes in an interview situation, people will try to get you to be negative. Don;t be trapped. Take a breath – and find that lemonade amid all the lemons others throw at you. It’s less toxic and a great exercise that you can practice all the time – in your personal and professional life.

What is Lost -Is Now Found

There are people in this world who pay it forward; they are unselfish and do something for another person – just because.

My life was in a little bit of a tizzy Friday when I lost my cell phone. I don’t know how, but I left it on the PATCO train coming home from Philadelphia into South Jersey. My mind was bogged down with some serious details I have to sort through and I suppose I had the phone in my hand and put it down as I was getting up to get off the train.

For hours, I dialed the lost phone; eventually, the call went right to voice mail indicating the phone was off or worse – trash. I then proceeded to change my passwords on multiple emails and other accounts. I suspended service on the lost samsungphonephone and activated a ‘dumb’ phone on my account while I searched for and ordered a new device. I mentioned to my family Friday night that I had a feeling that the conductor on the train (I had been sitting a few rows back from the conductor) might have turned in the phone at the end of his shift.

PATCO lost and found was not supposed to be open today according to the person I talked to Friday. This morning, my husband and I were at the gym at the same time. I never take my phone into the gym. He came over to me and told me what I had hoped: the phone was found and was at lost and found.

A woman never showered so quickly and dressed for the day. I drove the five miles to Lindenwold and a lovely PATCO employee returned my phone. The only thing gone was the purple protective case. For $7, I have another on order. I’ll never know who found my phone and turned it in, but I’d like to send good karma his or her way – and hope that something nice happens to him or her soon.

Now I have to go through the ordeal of returning the new phone I had ordered. that will be fun. As for my found phone – anyone have an idea for making sure I don’t lose it again?