The rudest things we do with technology

The eight rudest things people do with technology – Are you guilty of these?

Peter Harris|

I heard a discussion on the radio this morning about the rudest ways that people use technology at work. A survey was conducted soliciting people’s opinions about the least polite things that we do with our devices, and they’ve come up with the worst eight.

It’s confession time. Unfortunately, I am regularly guilty of most of them. However, in my defence, so is just about everyone else that I work with. So while I can see how some of these seem rude – others may just (for better or worse) be the new normal behaviour.

Anyway, here are the survey results for the rudest technology behaviours seen around the office.

    1. The worst, according to 54% of people, is checking email on your phone during a meeting. (Everyone I know does this – some more discretely than others.)

    2. Almost half of people surveyed (49%) complain about those who check texts during a business lunch. (I can see this one. It seems even ruder to me than checking emails in meetings. The cultural vibe of a meal is more personal that a boardroom meeting.)

    3. 20% of respondents complain about people using ALL CAPS TO MAKE THEIR POINT STRONGER in emails. (Yeah, that’s actually pretty ANNOYING!)

    4. 19% of people hate being included on infinite email chains that do not have anything to do with them. (We’ve noted before that studies have shown how email overload makes you dumber than smoking pot does.)

    5. LOL! Using “text speak” in emails is a pet peeve of 18% of respondents. (OMG, don’t do that @ work. THX)

    6. A similar 18% don’t want to hear your personal cell phone conversations conducted in public areas of the office. (That’s why they made cell phones so portable – you can walk to somewhere private to discuss Junior’s diaper rash.)

    7. Texting while walking through the office is offensive to 17% of people. (Okay, I mentioned this one in my article The 7 coworkers we can do without, but frankly, I’ve come to terms with that fact that everyone does this.)

    8. Emailing a person who is sitting right beside you rather than just standing up and talking to them directly came in as annoying to 16% of respondents. (This can be rude – but sometimes there are reasons for emailing- you might want to have a record of the conversation. Or speaking to someone directly could interrupt the person who might be busy with other things. Emailing allows them to respond on their own schedule.)


The people I heard discussing this survey on the radio seemed to agree that all eight of these behaviours was outright rude. I’ve always worked for websites, so maybe it’s just the culture of my workplace that makes most of these seem normal rather than outrageous. How about you? Do these seem like rude uses of modern technology or just the way many people interact nowadays?

(Note: After hearing the radio discussion, I did some digging and found several websites referencing the survey, but unfortunately I could not find one attributing its original source.)

- Peter Harris

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Category: Life At Work,
  • Tigger59

    What I find most annoying is when people get a call on their mobile phone while they are talking to you and DON’T SAY “pardon me; I need to take this”. They just take the call and look at you rudely.
    The other day I was in a public washroom and there was a young woman on her mobile phone near the hand dryer. When I dried my hands, she gave me the evil eye and moved away but still in the washroom. Ex-cuuuu-se me! Was I not supposed to dry my hands?

  • Nightblade

    I completely agree. Texting while they’re attending a lunch meeting I see as very rude. Hello, you’re there to talk, not to play with your phone.

  • Lynn

    All cell phones are off limits when we eat dinner or out for dinner. Actually if nothing is important, the cell phones stay in the vehicle when we eat out. The ability to communicate is being lost and I want to instill this quality into my 2 boys. They are really good about leaving their phones in the vehicle. I enjoy the time together.

  • Peter Pottinger

    So basically, be professional.

  • ksg1

    I have a few more annoying and rude no nos.
    1. Talking on your cell while you are waiting in line, talking so loud I couldn’t hear what the cashier was saying to me. I gave the person a dirty look and said excuse me but can you do that somewhere else, I can’t hear. (He followed me in the parking lot and said I was the rude one.)
    2. Talking on your cell when being served by a cashier, waitress or other customer sales person. RUDE
    3. Taking a cell call when out on a date…put your phone on silent mode, there is no need to answer a call right away, and leave your date hanging.

  • Anita Atluri

    People that just READ everything you send them, staring at some screens and thinking, “Oh!” that’s All. the new “Mail People”.

  • smscamp

    Point 3. Sometimes caps are used in placed of bold or underlining in order to place importance.
    points 4, 5 , 6, 7 could be applied to non-work as well.
    point 8 is just plain comical

  • Sarah

    I think it’s a generational thing as well. Older workers who are used to communicating more verbally, or by mail or fax would find most of these things much more offensive then a younger worker probably would. I don’t think either is completely right, it’s just there’s been so much advancement in technology over the past 20 years we hit this gap in what is acceptable office conduct and what is not. Of course, the workplace determines a lot of it as well. If you are working in a modern, tech-savvy workplace then etiquette would be severely different than if you were working in an older environment that was less technology driven.

  • Karin OReilly

    This is so true .It is not ok to have a cell ring during a meeting so why is it ok to read emails or text during meeting ?

  • Matt

    Why email/text someone who’s next to you?
    1) You don’t want the message to be overheard.
    2) You want to make sure they gave you the right email/number.
    3) You don’t want to interrupt their conversation/activity.
    4) You want them to get the message after you’ve left, because you know they may object to your leaving.
    5) It’s a joke which simply doesn’t make sense verbally.
    6) The information includes pictures or other media.
    7) The message is being sent to multiple people at once.
    8) You need to CC a supervisor or include someone else.
    9) The subject is one you don’t feel comfortable bringing up in person.
    10) You already typed the message earlier and spent a lot of time getting it just right.
    11) Something is inhibiting your ability to speak properly.