Modern technology has given us an array of new ways to communicate electronically. But communication is a social activity, and so there is more to electronic communication than just the technological aspect. There is the social aspect as well. Just because we can communicate, should we? What is the best way to communicate, and when is the best time?
In other words, what is good electronic communication etiquette? This is where your company needs to lay out some ground rules, to make sure that electronic communication is used most effectively and efficiently, causing the least amount of trouble. Here are a few suggestions for good communication etiquette.
This first suggestion should really be something well-known to everyone – it’s just the polite thing to do, and it should be part of your company’s policy. When you are in a business meeting, you should turn off your cell phone and any other devices that ring or beep, and these devices should stay out of sight for the duration of the meeting. Looking at devices while the meeting is going on sends a signal to others that you really aren’t engaged, that you don’t think the meeting is very important.
You need to remember that emails and other social media provide a written record of what you say, something that is relatively long lasting, and available for others to see. So, you need to be careful about what you put in the email – watch out for profanity, insults, malicious gossip, words written in the heat of anger. Once you send the email, you can’t get it back.
Use the “reply all” button sparingly. Chances are, many of the people who receive a “reply all” email really don’t need to see the message, so all you are doing is clogging the system with another message, and wasting other people’s time.
Avoid using email to try and resolve arguments. Disagreements are best handled face to face. Emails are a poor substitute for personal communication, where issues need to be talked about and resolved. Email and other electronic communication cannot communicate tone of voice and body language, both of which add nuance and meaning to what we say, and help put our words in context.
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