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Do you have your netiquette in check? Many people feel a greater sense of freedom online, whether they are communicating via email instant message boards, chatrooms, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social networking sites. Increase your professional presence and personal effectiveness by calibrating your online presence to make sure it is in line with your professional presence in the real world.

Why is it so easy for us to forget our manners online? Typing communication into a computer screen allows just enough detachment that we people often feel entitled to typing opinions or criticisms that we would never allow to come out of our mouths in real life.

Treating others with courtesy and respect is just as important online as it is in person, and the case can even be made for it being more important in some situations, because your activities online are forever recorded, whereas a momentary lapse of courtesy in real life can often be rectified with a subsequent apology or reframing of the event.

It’s not just about being nice. 

  • Make sure you communicate clearly. Keep emails and IMs clear and make your point. Some abbreviations may be fine with friends, but are not appropriate in other settings.
  • Don’t use capital letters. It’s never appropriate.
  • Be careful of humor, because it is quite difficult to convey in writing.
  • Always ask permission before you post anything about a person on the internet. It seems obvious, but is always worth repeating: The internet is never private!
  • Take the time to check your communications for tone, grammar, and spelling. If the message was worth typing, it is worth taking the time to make sure it is conveyed correctly.

Give the gift of your full attention. 

Mobile devices have become more integrated into our lives, making it easier to slip on this one. Yes, it seems harmless to check email or send a quick text during a meeting. After all, if you can do two things at once, you will be more effective, right? Wrong. As a matter of fact, recent research has shown that for most of us, multi-tasking does not improve productivity. Instead, it decreases our understanding and attention to detail. No matter how integrated your mobile devices are, giving your full attention to the people around you sends the powerful message that you regard and respect them.

If you must make a call or send a text while you are with others, apologize for the interruption, and ask your colleagues whether they mind. Make the call brief and explain to the person on the phone that you need to get back to your friend or meeting. Everyone appreciates courtesy!

The center of your world is not the center of theirs. 

With our ability to access others instantly, it is easy to assume that others’ priorities match your own. While you may be busy texting and emailing others to resolve the problem or push the project that is number one on your to-do list, remember that everyone you come in contact with has their own set of priorities, and they may not rank your project with the same importance and urgency that you do.  Respect the prerogative of others to set the urgency of your communications with them. Multiple emails and texts asking for replies will only hurt your productivity in the long run, because your counterpart will (either consciously or subconsciously) begin to put you off. No one likes a boor online or in real life!

Take a step back and consider the netiquette in your workplace. Does it reflect the culture that the company would like to foster?

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