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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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When did electronic devices start to make us forget our good manners?

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I recently read and shared on my Facebook page an article by Janine Popick on Inc. Magazine about business meeting etiquette. The time of the article was serendipitous, because I had just attended three consecutive seminars where a great number of people in the audience seemed to be elsewhere rather than fully present at these meetings.

When I read Popick's article, I felt relieved as I realized that I wasn't alone in thinking that the more gadgets we acquire, the more socially inept we seem to become. The basics of business etiquette should be applied in every business occasion (including in-house meetings or in any informal business context). When exactly did we stop being courteous during meetings? Here are my pet peeves:

Arrive on time Being punctual is a simple matter of respect for the presenter and your fellow attendees.

Make eye contact If someone is speaking, look at them. Don't stare at your cell phone or iPad or doodle on your notepad or napkin.

Show respect for the other party If you decide to take notes using an electronic device, be aware that those around you can easily tell the difference between taking notes and chatting on a social media platform or answering your emails.

Show genuine interest, and participate Prepare yourself prior to meetings so you can offer meaningful insight and ask smart questions. That is not to say you should chat with people near you while someone else is talking. Talking on top of other people is just plain rude we teach it to our children, so let's practice it!

Turn your cell phone off If you are expecting a call and need to take it during a meeting, set your phone to vibrate and take the call outside of the room.

Mind your voice - I am a loud South American woman, but as my co-workers can attest, I have two different voice volumes my business volume, and my 'hereditary Latin' volume! Loud, disruptive conversations and laughter can also make you look unprofessional - even in South America, I can assure you that.

Lately, I have noticed that many of us have become unaware of how unprofessionally we present ourselves when we pull out our electronic devices during meetings to check social networks or answer emails. I used to get upset at my students for doing the same during class, but I am actually more amazed at the fact that seasoned professionals have picked up this unpolished practice as well.

Just think about it when you attend a business meeting or a seminar, you are not only representing your employer, but you are also marketing yourself as a professional. So, the next time you attend a meeting, remember that business etiquette is still very much in vogue and people do notice it!

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at


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