Netiquette: Online Communication Tips

Netiquette wordcloudAre you sure you want to say that? Do we really want a media page to be our go-to place for venting frustration? Is the picture of us complaining, fuming, or shouting from a soapbox really what we want the world to see? Let’s consider our etiquette on the web, sometimes called netiquette.

Netiquette: Online Communication Tips

1. TYPING IN ALL CAPS = SHOUTING.  Unless you want the party on the other end to feel like you have a bullhorn in their ear, don’t type in all caps. People have even been fired for this kind of aggressive communication. Read of one such case here.

2. Don’t forward chain emails. They’re annoying. Your luck does not depend on how many people you forward that message to, unless your luck turns sour because you irritated the recipients. “Like and Share if you agree”-type memes are the social media equivalent of chain emails.  Consider if it’s really worth posting those things. Sharing a post is not the same as making a difference for a cause you believe in by getting involved.

3. Be careful when using humor or sarcasm, as these can easily be misread, especially if the recipient doesn’t know you very well. When it comes to communication, the majority of meaning is actually derived from facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, all of which are lacking from texts and messages. Choose your wording carefully so as not to offend.

4. Decide on the most appropriate way to contact someone, whether an email, post, IM, private message, text, phone call, or in-person conversation. Long, complicated matters are best resolved with a call or personal meeting. Consider how the person on the other end would prefer to be contacted, whether texting about a work issue is appropriate after hours (or any time), or if the recipient might prefer to answer a quick question in an IM as opposed to cluttering up an email inbox.

5. Would I say this if I were face-to-face with this person? Would I use this tone and these words, or even broach the subject at all? If not, then you probably shouldn’t use them in email either. If you’re angry or frustrated, it’s better to pause and give yourself time to process your emotions and frame your response before replying or initiating a heated exchange, even if you’re already on the receiving end of nasty communications.

The most important netiquette tip to remember is that though it may seem like we’re operating in a virtual world, at the other end of our network connection are very real human beings, people with feelings, backstories, and struggles. The golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is just as applicable on the web as it is anywhere else. Take care not to become a cyberbully or behave in a regrettable manner. Keep in mind that anything you send or post is logged in cyberspace forever, even if you think you can delete it.

Be a responsible digital citizen by practicing these communication tips as you interact online, displaying good netiquette. This will help to keep the Internet a safer, more enjoyable place for all.

More Info:
Read more about Comm-etiquette in this guide from Microsoft and The Finishing Academy.

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