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Manners and Connectivity

In the age of connectivity, the rules of etiquette have either gotten more complicated or have been thrown out all together. In social situations these days, you are often deluged with phone calls, texts, emails, updates from Twitter, Facebook, or other various other social media feeds. It may seem like common sense to turn off your cell phone or perhaps silence it in social settings, but some people don’t realize that they aren’t giving you their full attention when they say the alert from their phone will “only take a second.” Below are a few examples of connectivity faux pas and tips to avoid making them.

Phones at the Dinner Table – You would not talk over someone midsentence in a conversation. The same manners apply for texting or answering your phone at the dinner table. It interrupts the flow of dialogue and can make your company feel like you aren’t listening to them.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Excuse yourself from the table if you need to take an urgent call.
  • If you know you will be distracted and curious if your phone alerts you of a text, take a preventive step and turn it off.
  • For dinners lasting longer than an hour, you could suggest the table take a “cell phone break” for those who need or want to check their emails or messages.

Loud Phone Calls in Public Places – Talking on the phone in public forces those around to become a part your conversation. We have all been the victim of this and many of us have committed this faux pas.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Silence your phone and do not answer it
  • If you need to answer the call, step away to a secluded area to take it and tell the caller that their call is important and you will call them back in x amount of minutes.
  • If you must take the phone call and you are waiting in line, ask the person behind you to hold your spot and quickly go take your call.

Becoming Overly Dependent on Digital Communication – By making email the easiest way to reach you, you run the risk of disconnecting from the world around you. In face-to-face social situations, your email may become a distraction, as you will feel the need to check it regularly.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Make the most of face-to-face communications.
  • Make your phone to be the best way to get a hold of you over email or texting.
  • Resist the urge to respond to email immediately, wait to check it after you leave your social engagement.

It’s up to us to be aware and realize when we are invading other‘s space or ignoring our companions because we are too connected. Hopefully following some of these etiquette rules will help us take advantage of face-to-face communications that are happening less often in this age of connectivity. Can you think of other social faux pas that occur due to digital communication? If so, let us know!

How to network

Networking is simply having a professional conversation. Even though we live in an age where the majority of our social interactions can be automated, the number one way professionals connect is through old school networking. If you’re involved in business at any level, it’s important to have effective networking skills. Here are some tips to help improve your networking skills, and remember these skills can be applied to any conversation, no matter the level of professionalism.

 

You’re There to Give, not Get

 

It’s easy to ramble on to whomever it is you are speaking with and deny them the opportunity to speak. Make sure and give your conversation partner an ample amount of opportunities to speak their mind and contribute to the conversation. Remember, you’re there to give constructive comments, not get a stage upon which to perform a monologue. Letting the other person have plenty of time to speak makes them feel like a part of a conversation and therefore important.

 

Don’t Appear Desperate

 

Appearing needy in business, much like in dating, is usually a turn off. Acting desperate is a sign of low self-assurance, which does not communicate ability. When networking, remind yourself of the positive things you are bringing to the table. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities and it will show in your conversation. Don’t forget, if you aren’t confident in what you’re talking about, it may best to change the subject.

 

Ask Open-Ended Questions

 

Make sure and give the conversation a place to grow. Don’t smother it by only asking “yes” or “no” questions. Give the person with whom you are speaking room to elaborate on their ideas. Most “yes” or “no” questions can be reworded to make them more open-ended and allow for greater elaboration. For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?” ask, “What are your favorite movies?” On the off chance that whomever you are speaking with doesn’t like movies, that information will most likely be included in their response as well as the opportunity for elaboration.

 

Networking is all about staying comfortable and maintaining sincere conversations. For more tips, check out this article.

Changes in Services: How to avoid a Backlash

When large companies change their service plan it usually comes as a surprise to the consumer. They may change pricing, put new limitations, or get rid of certain services altogether. While these transitions go smoothly for some companies others make changes so abruptly and drastically that it can cause quite a stir.

The recent change Netflix has made is a great example of transition not going well. Netflix’s decision to separate their DVD and streaming services and raise the cost of both has affected most of us. The change happened so abruptly and with such little explanation that a great many people canceled their subscriptions, more than Netflix had anticipated, nearly half a million to be exact. To try to smooth this debacle over, on the 18th of this month, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, wrote an apology and posted it to the Netflix blog. In his statement, he acknowledged that he “… messed up. [And he owes] everyone an explanation.” While his intensions were good the result was not what he expected. There was again a considerable backlash to something he said within the apology. He announced that the DVD-by-mail services and the streaming would be split into completely separate services. The DVD-by-mail service will now be called Qwikster while the streaming services will remain Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix may be learning that sometimes an apology is not enough.

In late June, AT&T changed their service plan to a tiered pricing plan and eliminated their unlimited data plan. While this upset many people, AT&T chose to honor those who already had the unlimited data as part of their plan.  This allowance for a grandfathered plan may have saved the company from  losing a great deal of customers to other carriers.

Regardless of why companies change the service they offer, the transition time is turbulent. When executing a massive change, companies should develop a strategy for notifying the public to reduce any backlash. Here are a couple strategies that companies should consider when employing major change.

  • Notice, and Lots of It:  Give the public plenty of notice and utilize a forum where customers, particularly those directly affected, can express questions and concerns.
  • Grandfathered Services:  Honor services and prices current clients have prior to the change.
  • Details:  Explain the change in detail! The more transparent you are with your announcement, the more your clients will trust your decision.
  • Discounts: Offer a free month of service or some other type of coupon if clients take advantage of multiple services

If you have any more ideas of ways companies could make the news of service plan changes easier, we’d love to hear from you!

Steer clear of these time wasters

Last week we talked about bad habits to avoid at work, including wasting time on the Internet. Though the Web is one of the most useful advances in technology in the past 30 years, it’s also one of the largest sources of distraction. However, workplace distraction was a problem even before the Internet. Here are three of the most common ways workers can get distracted from their work without using the Internet.

 

The Water Cooler

 

Creating a vibrant work culture is crucial for most businesses for many reasons. Workers who get along well with each other often perform at higher standards. However, there should always be a balance between work and socializing when at the office. It’s easy to fall into the habit of spending extended breaks conversing with a coworker about your personal life. To help combat this, try planning a weekly night out with your friends at work. This will keep you up to date on each other’s lives while decreasing the need to socialize during working hours.

 

Minesweeper

 

Check your computer. No mater what model or make, you’ll most likely be able to find some kind of pre installed game. Even without the Internet, it’s easy to be distracted by computer games like Minesweeper, Solitaire or even Chess. We’ve all tried to slip in a few minutes of gameplay into our work day, but more often than not, those few minutes can add up to a few hours. The best thing to do? Delete these games from your computer outright. Be honest with yourself, you probably don’t even love playing them that much.

 

Daydream

 

It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts, worried about bills or troubles at home. Being distracted by a daydream is difficult because we rarely daydream on purpose. If you find yourself daydreaming often, try a few things to help increase your focus like getting more sleep or eating a healthy snack while working on a given project. Make sure that you’re getting adequate vitamin B and avoid foods that are high in processed sugars.

 

Staying focused at work can be a challenge, and as we all know, we don’t need the Internet to get distracted. Don’t forget these tips throughout your workweek to help keep you on track. Don’t forget, 90% of productivity is focus!

How Accessing Entertainment has Changed

Entertainment industries have had to evolve in the past few years as we have gained more access to music, movies and television from online sources. Physical stores are disappearing as these businesses open online stores. Examples of these are Blockbuster, Borders, and, the iconic Virgin Megastore in Times Square. Online storefronts have become a great option for consumers as well as business as there are fewer overhead costs, which give buyers more options for less. Here are some examples of ways that access to entertainment has changed.

It wasn’t always easy to buy single songs from a new music album.  If the song you wanted wasn’t released as a single, you would have to buy the total album. Thanks to sites like iTunes and Amazon MP3, people can now buy any single song from a record. Musicians also allow people to purchase their songs on their websites and many choose to give their songs away. Many independent and chain music stores have been forced to close due to these new options for purchasing music. The industry as a whole has changed as well and record labels have had to raise concert ticket and merchandise prices in order to turn a profit.

Online music streaming has also become very popular. Sites such as Pandora and Grooveshark  are free and let people customized their stations with less commercials than traditional radio stations. If you chose to upgrade, you can get your music with no commercial interruptions. Many people use these services to test out music prior to buying it and sometimes choose them in place of purchasing music. Most Internet connected gadgets can access these services anywhere at any time.

EBook Readers are also a hot item these days. Digital versions of books can purchased for much less than their physical counterparts found in brick and mortar bookstores. Because these digital books can never sell out, sites like Amazon have seen tremendous success, whereas classic shops like Borders are closing their doors forever.

 

Rather then pay hefty monthly prices for satellite or cable TV, many people opt to stream television and movies from an online source like Netflix or Hulu. The competition in the TV industry has pushed network channels to upload their most recently aired episodes onto their websites.

 

The way we access our entertainment has changed drastically thanks to the Internet. Television, books, and music found on the Internet are much more cost effective, but this may change. Recently Netflix altered its model of offering both online streaming and physical DVD rentals and also raised its prices. Many articles have been written speculating whether this will hurt or help their business plan. As we see physical stores disappear and online stores become our only option, we may see more sites follow in the model pioneered by Netflix. We will just have to wait and see.

 

What not to do at the office

Paying close attention to detail and keeping your workspace tidy are both examples of good habits to form in the office, proof that habits can be a very helpful working tool. Although, there are some habits that should be avoided, even if they seem helpful. Research shows that it takes a minimum of 21 days to break out of a bad habit. Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid forming those habits all together? Here are a few bad habits that are easy to fall into, as well as a few suggestions on how to proactively avoid them.

 

Working Through Lunch

 

Let’s face it, sometimes work can get hectic. We’ve all wished for more hours in the day and sometimes use our lunch hour to gain that much needed extra hour. That mid-day break provides the down time you need during the day that can help you be more productive in the afternoon. Sometimes working through lunch is unavoidable, so make sure to avoid forming the habit. Try giving yourself strict boundaries the help protect your lunchtime.

 

Idealizing

 

We all know how easy it is to idealize a dream job we don’t yet have. Even if that job is something likely unattainable, like working as an actor or being a professional ice cream taster, we all like to think about how it would make life better. This is a very bad habit to fall into, because it makes enjoying your current position very difficult. Instead, try thinking of all the good things your job provides for you, such as money to pay your bills or even free coffee. Taking pleasure in simple and small joys will help you find happiness all of the time.

 

Work Time Distractions

 

Most of us spend our workdays in front of a computer. With all of the wonderful distractions on the Internet, it’s easy to waste an entire morning with YouTube videos and flash-based games. To avoid forming this bad habit, try scheduling “mini-breaks” to enjoy a small distraction, perhaps after completing a large project or working for a large chunk of time.

 

Bad habits can be tricky to break; it is much easier to avoid them all together. The next time you find yourself tempted to form any of these bad habits, take a moment to consider what positive habit you could form instead.

The Tablet Comes to Our Table

Technology is constantly changing our lives. It happens so rapidly and seamlessly that we hardly notice.   It wasn’t long ago that stores used a manual machine to make a carbon imprint of your credit card whenever you made a purchases. Those machines are nearly obsolete thanks to WiFi technology and tablets. An individual can now purchase an attachment for their tablet that allows them to scan credit cards virtually anywhere.

Tablets have changed a lot more than our purchasing ease and mobility. Many people have fundamentally changed their businesses because of tablets. The following companies use tablets in such intriguing and innovative ways it might surprise you.

At De Santos, a high-end Italian restaurant in New York City’s West Village, the members of the wait staff use iPads to take orders and swipe credit cards. The hope is that this will streamline the ordering process reducing mistakes.

At Puma stores in Asia, Africa, and Europe, customers can use iPad stations called The Creative Factory to design their own sneakers and share them with people around the world. They can also view designs from other creators. Puma’s goal is to connect the world through active footwear.

At SHOPBOX, an addition to the DeKalb Market in Brooklyn, you won’t find a store or store clerks! What you will find is a shipping container with an iPad mounted on the side. Shoppers use the iPads to register then text the items they want to purchase to a number printed on the display glass. The items are then shipped to the shopper’s house. Talk about window-shopping!

As tablet technology improves more innovative uses will be developed. It’s not unthinkable to imagine having a wait staff may be obsolete in the future or that future generations have no use for a mall. Change is the nature of the world and it seems the more advanced we become, the faster things change. So let’s sit back and watch things become easier due to technology and one day we might just get those hovercrafts promised in science fiction movies.

 

Tips on how to write the right email

Most of us publish several emails every day, to our friends, clients, coworkers and employers. It’s important to note that how we write these emails communicates more than we might realize. Taking time to choose your words carefully is important in order to avoid any humiliating miscommunication. What would your boss think if you ended an email with “Love?” Here are some tips on determining proper email language.

Opening an Email  

Informal

Composing a message to a close friend is best done in an informal tone. When writing an informal message, you don’t need to use much more than the recipient’s name. Even a simple “Hi,” will communicate a relaxed tone and let the reader know the email they are reading is from a close acquaintance.

Formal

Use this tone when writing an email to a coworker or employee, someone with whom you are acquainted but also professional. Consider opening your email with “Dear,” followed by the recipient’s name or a more formal greeting such as “Good afternoon” or “Good evening.” This communicates that you respect the reader but are also approaching them with a tone of familiarity.

Respectful

When writing to a higher institution, like a prospective employer, make sure and open your email with a bit more formality. Generally, you’d use this tone if the recipient were someone you were not previously familiar with. The best opening in this case is “To whom it may concern.” Using this opening communicates respect to the reader.
 
Closing an Email  

Informal

Again, when writing to someone with whom you share a close personally history, you can end the email by simply writing your name or “Love,” followed by your name. This is informal and lets the reader know that you meant the message to be an intimate one.

Formal

End a formal email with “Sincerely,” or “Yours truly.” This is not as informal as closing with just your name, but it also communicates some kind of personal relationship. This is the best tone to use when communicating professionally with someone you work with on a regular basis.

Respectful

Ending a professional and respectful email in the proper tone is very important. As in a formal tone, you may end the message with “Sincerely,” or even “Regards.” Both should adequately communicate respect. However, if the content of the message calls for it, ending with “Thank you for your time,” lets the reader know you are grateful for the time they’ve spent reading your message.

    Communicating the correct message is all a matter of vocabulary, so when composing your next email make sure to use the right words to communicate your desired message. This will help ensure that your friends don’t fear that you’ve become melancholy drone or lead your boss to believe you’ve become a hopeless romantic. Choose the right words so that you send the right message.

Amusing Lawsuits from the Tech Industry

Usually lawsuits are very serious news and not to be laughed at. The tech industry has had its fair share of these more serious suits. However, we sometimes read about ones that we can’t help but be amused by. This list of unbelievable tech lawsuits from the past 10 years is sure to tickle your funny bone.

Allergic to Pentium? – In 2002, a Dutch woman tried to sue Intel and her government because she thought that her Pentium processor gave her hives. The 486-base processor did not cause her harm and her case never made it to the courts. Apparently, no court was “itching” to take her case.

A Woman Lead into Danger by Google? – In 2009, Google was sued by a woman who was hit by a car on a dark narrow highway that did not have pedestrian pathways. She blamed Google because she was just following the walking directions they gave her. A judge dismissed her case and Google “dodged” the lawsuit.

Star Wars Galaxies Killed by Sony! – In 2010, angry fans of Star Wars Galaxies filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony for shutting down the game. The MMORPG had had a steadily lessening subscribership for several years.  I guess the “force” was not strong enough to sustain the game, the fans, or the case.

Woman sues man over a failed Mafia Wars romance – A woman fell in love with another player of the Facebook game, Mafia Wars, and spent thousands of dollars on Mafia Wars gifts for her beau. After the relationship ended she sued him for the money she had spent.  Her case and her love life are now “sleeping with the fishes.”

I hope these unbelievable tech lawsuits made you smile. If you have heard of any more, please share them with us by leaving a comment here or on one of our other social media accounts! 

The change in content consumption

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are traditionally considered connected devices, because each device connects to and interacts with the Internet. However, HDTVs, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles are also connected products, as a high percentage of their functionality performs on the Internet. Each of these gadgets offers a means of communicating and consuming content.

    Where information was previously compiled manually, it can now be accessed remotely. Content consumption, in turn, is changing, because the avenues in which that content can be found are evolving. With an increase in connectivity, finding specific information is as easy as performing a Google search. So, how does increased connectedness change the way we consume content?

Faster Access of Information

    Finding information is almost instantaneous, and can be done from a wide variety of locations. You don’t no longer need to be tied down to a hardwired computer; content can be accessed through your phone or tablet via WiFi or 3G. Now, researching and accessing content is a process that only consumes a few moments. The speed at which we now consume content is greater than it has ever been because accessing that content takes almost no time at all.

Faster Generation of Information

    The connectedness that exists between devices is one that goes both ways. While content is easy to find, it is also easy to generate. You can upload a video to YouTube, post a blog on WordPress or update your status on Facebook, all from a connected device. The speed in which content can be generated is astounding, as millions of gigabytes of information are uploaded to the Internet every day.

High Rate of Communication 

    Connected devices allow for content to be passed along at an extremely high rate. A notification on a smartphone can trigger an n email to a tablet user, which triggers to a post to Facebook that is then reposted by a fan or follower and so on. This phenomenon is called “going viral” and is the process by which content is communicated to a large audience over a short period of time.  Thanks to connected devices, information has the ability to travel and travel quickly.

    Our increased connectivity has changed the way we consume content. The main difference, if you hadn’t already guessed, is speed. Like most technological advancements, it’s difficult to determine the value of this change. Information can be gathered, created and shared faster than ever before. How we choose to use that information is entirely up to us.