One, never put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t post on a bulletin board. That prudent advice comes from the venerated Emily Post Institute via Peter Post, director, who has conducted business etiquette seminars for firms such as Citigroup, Fidelity Investments and Smith Barney.
“Once an e-mail is sent from your computer,” Post said, “it’s a public document that anyone can see.”
Two, new electronic technologies call for new behaviors and etiquette.
“When a communication is conducted in a public forum, such as on a cell phone or in an e-mail, make sure you don’t put confidential information out there for the public to see,” explained Post, a great-grandson of Emily Post, the manners maven who penned the 1922 bestseller Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home.
“The minute an e-mail or text gets into anything qualitative or personal,” says Peter, 59, “you’re using the wrong medium. Don’t make a mistake because, sure as shootin’, you’re going to get caught by Murphy’s Law.”
For instance, you might intend to e-mail confidential account information to a client named Dave but accidentally fire off the message to a different client named Dave. “Recovery from something like that is really hard.”
Three, as for manners in the year 2010, what would be a worse time to answer your ringing cell phone than during a client meeting? “Excuse me — I have to get this!”
“I mean, come on. Just think about how that makes the client feel: ‘I guess I’m not the most important person here.’ When you’re with someone who has a $10 million account with you and they walk out the door, how good is that?” he added.