As our lives have become more wrapped up in technology, it’s natural that much of our communication is done in a digital setting.
Through emails and social media, we connect with others and share everything from humorous memories to important business dealings.
The bad news is, not everyone comes across well when it comes to conversing online. It’s easy to offend and upset others when they don’t have your facial expressions and cues to read a room, and neither do you.
Here, we’ve rounded up the top ways you can improve your digital etiquette to avoid messy online communication…
ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL
Respect others rights and opinions when conversing in an online space.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, and it is okay to let them know that you don’t agree, but disagree in a respectful manner.
Negativity leads to more negativity. Be aware of how strong language, ALL CAPS, and exclamation points can be perceived by readers and show a lack of respect for others.
Be careful with humour and sarcasm as not everyone will pick up on it.
CHOOSE IMAGES CAREFULLY
Images can easily be taken out of context in certain crowds.
People tend to take an image for face value and will take this as an indicator of your character – so the wrong image can prove detrimental.
If you’re doing something embarrassing in the image potential employers or business partners will mistake your intentions, and it could harm your working relationships.
USE CLEAR LANGUAGE
Go for clarity and to-the-point writing, avoiding slang, shorthand, and abbreviations that some people may not understand.
Bad spelling and grammar can even change the context, causing readers to get the wrong impression.
If you say it clearly, choosing your words carefully, and using proper grammar and punctuation, your words can’t be taken differently than you intended. This is where emoticons can help.
Emoticons can help show the mood in which you mean a statement to come across in a realm where facial cues are not available.
A simple smiling face emoticon can transform a seemingly mundane sentence into a joke between friends.
STUDY YOUR PLATFORM
Learn to use the tools each platform provides and use them to the fullest.
Studying your chosen social media platform will help you connect with others in the most effective way, and also avoid embarrassing snafus.
If they provide stickers that can show the mood of your post, use them so others understand how to interpret your words, and learn how to delete messages and comments to avoid potentially dangerous situations if something comes out wrong.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Research something before sharing.
Don’t post fake news, even about a person in your community. Fact check it first as you can do untold damage to an individual’s credibility and often times these people are not in a position to defend themselves.
Don’t forward chain letters and just because there is text next to a person’s photo doesn’t mean that person actually said those words.
Before you share something on social media, think of the implications of what you’re seeing and spreading to your followers.
REMEMBER: NOTHING IS PRIVATE
No matter who you connect with, social media spreads your words to wider circles.
Not even private messages or a private wall that only your friends can see is really private. Anything can be screen-captured or repeated.
If you wouldn’t say it out loud for all your co-workers and family to hear, don’t say it online.
NEVER COLD SALES PITCH
Don’t friend someone just for the purpose of pitching a sale. The idea that everyone is a lead is not true.
Don’t pitch to someone’s wall or account unless they’ve expressed interest, and instead build a relationship with them first.
It’s okay to pitch when appropriate – such as when the person has expressed interest in a group and you’ve already had a conversation with them – but never out of the blue with no prior interaction.
If someone asked you something directly, don’t ignore them.
At least acknowledge that you’ve seen the question and that you’ll either answer or not as appropriate.
We don’t all have time to be glued to social media, but it’s rude to ignore people who wish to connect with your and your business outright.
If you don’t have time to personally respond at that moment, let them know you will get back to them at a later date.
KEEP IT SHORT
People tend to skim and sometimes just look at a title or photo and think they know the context, and then they respond based on those assumptions.
Put the most important information at the top and make the text easy to scan to make sure people leave with the correct message.
This is true for emails as well as social media. Keep it short and your audience is more likely to stay hooked and understand your meaning.
ALWAYS THINK BEFORE YOU POST
Think carefully about the content before sharing or sending it.
Be sure that you’ve read something carefully enough because you can’t un-send an email, and though you may be able to delete a post, someone may see it before you have the chance.
Most don’t read with the intent to understand. They read with the intent to reply. Avoid heavy bias as this can come across as illogical or divisive and always ask yourself if something needs to be posted.