Gadgets galore are becoming a mainstay of office culture, with hundreds of business professionals and casual telephone users adapting their daily habits into almost routine dependencies. For those without the added responsibility of a Bluetooth headset, PDA, or other hands-free wireless device, chances are they’re missing out on some time-saving conveniences available. Today’s tech-savvy business communities and offices are creating trends and general working habits by using Bluetooth headsets
in particular, minimizing cell phone connectivity issues, and adorning the familiar earphone piece between meetings and desk time. However effective the Bluetooth gadgets may be in your office, there is still much to be learned from the outward appearance.
‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is a clichÃ?Â© that can provide some insight into the world of Bluetooth headset wearers. Unlike a cell phone or other visible phone-in-hand device, the headset is conspicuously sitting atop the users ear on one side of their head; to the casual onlooker, it often goes unnoticed. Be forewarned of ‘are you talking to me?’-type looks, ‘I think he’s talking to himself’, and other odd nuances and habits that make it difficult to discern if the headset-dependent is actually trying to have a conversation or speaking directly to onlookers or staff members around them.
To the non-Bluetooth user, Saying ‘Good morning’ isn’t as easy as it used to be. If the headset user has his/her head turned away from you, be ready for the standard Bluetooth ignorance trap. When you’re ignored, don’t take it personally; it’s likely that the user didn’t even notice you. Small talk and casual greetings are more difficult than ever without a simultaneous indication of your presence. Try waving, pointing to yourself with a ‘hello, I’m here standing in front of you’ gesture, or as a last resort, walking up and tapping them on the shoulder.
Almost all new habits and tech gadgets have behavioral patterns associated with them. Bluetooth Gadget etiquette can best be defined as a series of understood rules that make it easier for both the user and those around them to have some ‘live’ communications. Here are some tips for both the casual and savvy Bluetooth headset user:
1. Save the arguments for the handheld phone. No matter how important the message and timing may be for your particular discussion, refrain from ‘going at it’ directly into the headset. The probability of someone hearing your raised voice are higher than ever when you have the liberty to move around and talk without the boundaries of a phone in your hand.
2. Remind yourself that your voice carries; the flexibility of the Bluetooth headset allows users to speak freely and openly no matter the setting. Again, remember that your voice is echoing beyond the tiny mic attachment.
3. When you walk around with the headset, keep your eyes directly in front of you. How many times have you had a conversation with another person, and lost ‘sight’ of your surroundings? It’s no different when you’re chatting away with the headset. If you insist on driving while talking, or operating machinery, find a way to focus on the task as your top priority.
4. Let the other person on the line know you’re using a headset. This may serve as a courteous gesture; it ensures they know why there’s background noise of construction/disgruntled workers/screaming babies intermittently imposing your conversation.
5. Don’t take the headset into the bathroom. No matter how convenient this scenario may seem, it’s not healthy, nor advisable, to continue a conversation into the restroom. Respect your office workers and community. Please.
6. Develop a gesture/eye movement/neon sign that indicates to onlookers and passersby that you are on the phone. When you realize your coworker down the hall has hovered by your cubicle at least three times during your conversation, it may be necessary to let them know you’re on a call.
7. Avoid the awkward Bluetooth-elevator conversations; you really can wait until you’re out of the elevator to avoid impending gossip about your current conversation with the Boss.
8. Take a cue from the ‘Bluetooth Fairy.’ The writer Lisa Belkin of the N
ew York Times writes about the rise in tech-culture and new definitions in her article “Overly Wired? There’s a Word for It” (Apr. 2006) She defines a Bluetooth fairy as “a person who walks around with the blinking glow of a Bluetooth headset permanently in one ear.”
9. Know that your facial expressions may be taken literally by those around you. Nobody knows that the panic spreading across your face from the stock update you just received from your assistant is why you’re turning red, and has nothing to do with the bagels and coffee your friendly coworker just delivered to your office. Keep a mirror handy if needed.
10. Get out of the ‘Bluetooth Dome’; learn to break away from your sphere of gadget surroundings once in a while, and breathe in some ‘wireless-free’ oxygen. (It’s free and readily available)
Respectful communications are essential in a variety of settings and situations; whether it’s the office, the grocery store, or the neighborhood park, standard modes of conduct may be required. Bluetooth headset wearers today need to take account of their surroundings, no matter how absorbing the conversation. Bluetooth Etiquette can help improve communication habits in the long-term and avoid the awkward instances and traps impending from any tech-gadget culture gaps.