The Corey Story

My random wanderings and things I find entertaining

Etiquette Awareness — Rude or Productive?

Posted by Corey Kaster on February 23, 2010

You see them everywhere … people walking, riding, shopping, reading, working, all with earbuds in, iPods playing.They seem happily engrossed in their own environment but what is the message they are sending — and how is it being perceived?

Whereas an iPod user feels she is tuning out the surrounding noise, focusing on her job and being productive, what is it that might lead someone to say that she is being rude and sending out the message “I don’t want to be bothered with you”?

The key word to remember as you make use of your iPod is approachability.

  • In a work environment, let your co-workers know that you are plugging in because it helps your productivity. Be clear if this is a “do not disturb” time or if questions are welcome.
  • No one else should be able to hear your music or any other sort of buzzing, humming sound.
  • No singing along, drumming on the desk or any other type of accompanying movement.
  • When talking with someone, remove both earbuds from your ears so they know they have your full attention. Removing only one earbud is a sign that you don’t want the conversation to last long or that the person is not important to you.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you are likely to encounter people you know in a public space, either leave the iPod behind or remove one earbud so you can hear someone saying hello to you. It will then be a simple matter to pull out the other earbud.
  • Keep in mind that iPods are not appropriate in all locations: office meetings, professional and social gatherings or classrooms. You are there to interact with people.


While you may have the best of intentions, it is how you are perceived that matters. Simple details, such as not returning someone’s greeting because you are so wrapped up in the music playing on your iPod can have a negative impression on how approachable you are.

Be aware that there is a time and a place for everything.

Please feel free to send me any of your

etiquette or customer service questions or stories!

Previous editions of Etiquette Awareness

may now be viewed at my website,

Jodi Blackwood

Business Etiquette & Customer Service Specialist

Speaker & Seminar Leader

“Etiquette is about polishing your approach,

not changing who you are.”


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2 Responses to “Etiquette Awareness — Rude or Productive?”

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my very first remark. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this site very often.

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