RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Autofill: The Good and the Bad

Posted by Peter Post September 24, 2013 07:00 AM

I wandered into the Damn You Autocorrect website. Funny stuff. My guess is we’ve all been the victim of autocorrect gone wild at one time or another. The point I like to make in talks about digital technology is that whereas autocorrect can be funny though embarrassing at times, it’s cousin, autofill, which works its magic on the TO field in emails, is downright dangerous.

I got talking about autofill one day at the Emily Post offices and heard a story that drives home how careful everyone should be, not just with the text and subject lines of an email, but with the intended recipient as well.

A young gentleman was introduced to a prospective employer at a job fair. The employer was impressed and asked the young man to come to the business for an interview. It turns out the young man’s good friend, Hazel, I’ll call her, worked as the employer’s administrative assistant. So he sent her an email asking her for any insights she might have to help him in the interview. She wrote back to him explaining in detail that her boss was a slob who was puffed up with his own self-importance. Except for him she really liked the place.

And then she filled in the TO field, or rather, autofill did it for her. Unfortunately, her friend and her boss had the same first name. She typed the first couple of letters, autofill did the rest and she hit enter and then send.

Big mistake. The email went to her boss rather than her friend. She was out of a job by the end of the day.

Autofill—it’s great because it speeds up typing and avoids misspelling names or email addresses, but it requires constant vigilance on your part not to make the same mistake as Hazel.

Is a Ticket to a Sporting Event a Ticket to Shout Insults at the Athletes?

Posted by Peter Post September 17, 2013 07:00 AM

I was watching the BMW tournament on Saturday afternoon. As sure as the sun rises in the east, I could hear a fan shout “In the hole” a fraction of a second after a shot was made. I marvel at the ability of the pros to completely ignore such inane outbursts.

But then, within the space of about forty-five minutes a couple of boorish fans went over the limit. Sergio Garcia was the first victim. Right in the middle of his backswing on his second shot to the par 5 18th hole, a “Go Tiger” resounded across the fairway, clearly meant to rattle Garcia. Garcia mishit his shot, and then he looked for the perpetrator off to his left. To his credit, he just shook his head and started up the fairway.

The second incident occurred when Zach Johnson was putting on the 18th green. He missed his putt and as he walked to mark the ball, Johnson looked up all of a sudden and started scanning the crowd. Clearly, someone had said something to get Johnson’s attention. While you could not hear what the fan said to him, later reports indicated it went something like “Zach, you suck!” Johnson then sunk his tap-in putt to finish the round. His playing partner, Nick Watney, then sunk his putt, shook hands with Johnson and started pointing at a person in the crowd. As they left the green the two of them went over to the stands and pointed again. Then Johnson and Watney had what appeared to be words with the offensive individual before heading out to sign their cards.

So the question is: Does a ticket to attend a sporting event include the right to shout insults at the athletes?

When is enough, enough? When such behavior is condoned because nothing is done about it, then the perpetrators will assume, quite correctly, that the behavior is acceptable and continue to do it.

Johnny Miller, the preeminent announcer/analyst in the game, has commented that the best way pros can deal with this kind of idiocy is to do what Garcia did: Ignore it and move on.

But what about the PGA? When is it going to decide to hold fans accountable for their rude behavior? As long as these loudmouths aren’t sanctioned for their actions, they will continue.

What do you think? Is a ticket to an event a ticket to shout insults at the athletes? If not, what should be done to deal with people who do?

White After Labor Day, Really?

Posted by Peter Post September 10, 2013 07:00 AM

Labor Day just passed us by and with it a dictum that has confused people for decades: Do you have to stop wearing white after Labor Day?

Not so surprisingly, that question has come up in conversations several times in the past week. Frankly, I’m used to getting asked etiquette questions even when I’m not in an official Emily Post etiquette capacity. A person learns that Emily was my great grandmother, and then there always seems to be a question. And at this time of the year that question inevitably is about when it’s appropriate to wear white.

So here’s the answer: Anytime. That’s right, you can wear white before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. That said, as with anything etiquette, temper the “rule” with a little practical reality. The whole wearing white during the summer season was always more a question of fashion than etiquette. White jeans in the winter, Why not? They’re warm and comfortable and as long as they’re clean, no problem. But thin linen pants of any color on a blustery, snowy day in Vermont? Get real. So the real issue with clothes, any clothes isn’t some date centric rule, it’s about wearing what makes sense.

Clothes are a way of showing respect for the people you are with and the event you are attending. Much more important than the issue of wearing white is whether the clothes you choose are clean, wrinkle free, and scentless. By choosing clothes that reflect the event as well, you are showing respect not only for the people you are with, but also for the other people there as well. If those clothes are white, clean and fit the occasion, then you can rest assured they are appropriate anytime.

Unintended Consequences from Tossing Out the Office Phone

Posted by Peter Post September 3, 2013 07:00 AM

“A manager at a large utility company recently had to teach his young employee what a dial tone was and explain that desktop phones don’t require you to press ‘Send.’” Wall Street Journal, August 27.

I was driving through Boston when I heard a news report on WBZ about millennials having trouble with real office desk phones at work. I had to find out more so I Googled “millennials won’t use phones” and up popped an article by Anita Hofschneider on the Wall Street Journal website.

It turns out there are people—millennials primarily—who don’t like to use office phones because they think a phone call is an interruption. The Wall Street Journal article expanded on this notion: “The company (Paperless Post) says not having individual phone lines in open-plan areas protects people from unwanted calls, which can interrupt conversations.” There’s a novel idea: We’re in business, but we don’t want to receive phone calls that could be business because we want to protect our workers who are having a conversation from being interrupted.

Following the logic that unplanned calls are an interruption, the article goes on to introduce a 32-year old technology officer at Technossus a business software company, who believes an email before a call is the way to go. I hope he doesn’t call me, or tons of other people I know who don’t drop everything every time an email comes in just to read it. Talk about interruptions—email may well be the single biggest interruption in a business day. If a person lets his email notification chime every time a new email arrives, he will waste untold amounts of time interrupting what he is doing to look at the email. The alternative is to batch process emails at regular intervals during the day, which cuts down on the interruption significantly. Batch processing also means if you email me to tell me you’re going to call me, I very well may not see your email before you call me. So now you risk not only interrupting me, you’re clogging my email box with useless emails. Hmmmmm.

The point here isn’t that phone calls are an interruption and communicating by email or text is more considerate. The point is that the successful businessperson knows how and when to use every communication option and does so to his or her advantage. Phones and phone calls are not going to go away, and the person who simply unplugs the phone on the assumption that the call isn’t important or that people who have something important to communicate should do it via email is going to miss out on opportunities. Knowing how to use phones—including a real old-fashioned desk phone with buttons and multiple lines and a handset you pick up and even a dial tone—is a basic skill people in business need to have. Similarly, knowing when to email and how to email appropriately is a basic business skill. Likewise texting is becoming mainstream in business just as email is.

Communication is a two-way street. The smart businessperson recognizes that different people communicate better or worse with different communication tools. Client A may use email while for Client B a phone call is by far the best communication method. Not respecting their differences in communication styles can end up having unintended consequences: like lost business.

About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. The column is distributed by The New York Times More »

More community voices

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street


Browse this blog

by category