…The ABCs of Appropriate Netiquette and Overall Communication Guide
The notorious Queen of Mean was once overheard saying, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Despite that claim to fame, she was also known for her tyrannical behavior to those around her, including her paid (rather unpaid) contractors and employees whom she treated very badly and unjustly.
While hopefully many of us do not intend to be rude or obnoxious, following are the ABCs of appropriate netiquette as a friendly reminder in how to effectively communicate in both the virtual and real realities:
A. Absolutes: When we are engaged in a conversation, it does not cease to amaze me how some individuals tend to use absolutes in dialog. For example, “She always is late to meetings.” If she is always late to her meetings, why is she still working with you? Words to avoid: all, always, never, or none, among others… and if you do use them, remember the context in how you are employing them.
B. Belittling: This is one of the worst things anyone can do to another person. If you do not agree with an individual, it is not appropriate to belittle anyone; especially directly on an individual’s post, blog, email communication, etc. Rather, think before you speak or write. Could you imagine how you would feel if someone personally attacked you for your work or thoughts? Another word to the wise: Be careful about hitting the Reply All button when responding in an email. Always pay attention to whom you are addressing at all times because one slipup could cost you your job or your reputation (even if your response is truthful).
C. CAPS: This is a biggie! The proper use of capitalization is a must. When emailing or in general chat/conversation, it is rude to talk/write in ALL CAPS. In fact, in netiquette, ALL CAPS is construed as yelling. As my good social media pal, Tom L. Wellborn stated, “Should be common knowledge by now – I learned this in the early nineties.“ However, there are cases where ALL CAPS may be used: In an article or personal post/blog for emphasis or in a book. Sometimes individuals use ALL CAPS because they are not familiar with keying and simply do not know how to turn the ALL CAPS button off. Other than those few items, it is UNEXCUSABLE to respond in emails or other dialog with ALL CAPS.
D. Don’t be the Dunce: Be direct in your communication with others. The last thing most people want is complicated dialog or just weird feedback. In other words, if you are commenting or responding on a blog, post or email (among other forms of communication) try to eliminate why your dog ate your homework when the discussion is about polyps.
E. Entrepreneurialship: Do share your expertise and need-to-know articles sparingly and when appropriate. After all that is a big part of social media networking: being able to spread your knowledge or services across the Net. However, do not clog the Twitter, Google Buzz, FriendFeed or Facebook streams with incessant sales pitches: this is a definite epic fail in my book.
F. Friendliness: Be friendly. More bees are attracted to honey than to vinegar. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “What is uttered from the heart alone, will win the hearts of others to your own.”
G. Give and take: Throughout social media networks, it is fairly easy to strike up a conversation with just about anyone, but it is equally difficult to win back that camaraderie if you lose that individual to selfishness. Sometimes we say unintentional things or constantly post our own thoughts and blogs without acknowledging others on our social networks. Always remember to give and take equally so you maintain proper balance in the social networking world.
H. Hostility: Don’t be a hot-head! This is a huge no-no. Keep your anger to yourself. Sometimes conversations (especially those surrounding religion and politics) become heated and deep. While each of us has our own belief system or system of non-belief (whichever comes first) be advised that resorting to hostile thoughts and words has never been appropriate by any means. If the conversation has taken an awkward turn, simply step away from the computer…or the person with whom you are speaking.
I. Ignorance. Though ignorance may be bliss to some, it is quite the contrary to others. If you do not understand the subject matter of a conversation, ask first for clarification before proceeding to add your “two cents worth”. No question is a dumb question.
J. Joking. Know your boundaries when it comes to jokes or other humor. Some individuals love to laugh and enjoy an amusing tale every now and then, but others have lost their funny bone entirely. Get to know your network or field of coworkers before attempting to crack a “good one” because while you may think it is hysterical, others may not be so inclined to laugh along.
K. Kaleidoscope. Are you a kaleidoscope or a ViewMaster™? How are you perceived by others? Are you knowledgeable or just a lot of repetitive hot air? While a ViewMaster™ may have a round of similar pictures to see, a kaleidoscope offers a myriad of colors and spectacles. Something to think about…
L. Learn. Try to appreciate what others have to offer you in reference to education and information. We cannot be right all the time, nor can we always be the best at everything. Sometimes it is the humbleness in thoughts that renders an attitude of gratitude.
M. Mission. If you have a particular mission in mind, define your itinerary and get to work. Sometimes we have to add a spice of this or that to the mix, but it makes for compelling dialog and perhaps a renewed interest in what you have to offer the world.
N. Narcissism. Are you the popularity king or queen who sits atop the social media network throne just waiting for folks to come your way? Doesn’t quite work that way. While there are a few heads of the social media food chain, we all bring something to the proverbial dinner plate. Let’s give credit where credit is due and leave the narcissist by the roadside.
O. Obstinate. Discern whether you are determined or plain stubborn. Determination is sometimes a positive thing when trying to land a job or find the gal of your dreams, but stubbornness can lead to autocratic views and thoughts. Be open to the atmosphere around you and the conversations in which you engage, and you may just discover a new opportunity for yourself.
P. Promises. Self explanatory — Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
Q. Quiet. Sometimes it is beneficial to just sit back and “listen” to the conversation. In fact, I encourage it. When we listen to what others have to say, we are giving them the platform to express their opinions, views, ideas, and information. When we truly listen to what someone is asking or stating, we become equipped to better respond in a more proficient way.
R. Respect. “I get no respect,” said Rodney Dangerfield. And in a cruel world where folks say and do cruel things, the last thing we want to be known as is disrespectful. Try to keep conversations as respectful as possible at all times. If you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all.
S. Straightforward. Be straightforward and honest about who you are, what you do, and what makes you, you. If you take the time to be sincere about yourself, you find that others will appreciate your candor a lot more than being a clandestine troll.
T. Trustworthiness. Which brings me to a big issue: trust. When you establish trust with your social media pals, your coworkers, affiliates, friends and within relationships on the whole, life becomes a whole lot easier for yourself and for those that surround you.
U. Understanding. Practice compassion and empathy. None of us are the same in mind, body and spirit. While we may be having an awesome day, someone else may have just lost his job, his spouse, or his dog. How we respond to these individuals is a clue to how we are as human beings in general.
V. Value. One of the most frequently asked questions I receive in professional relationships is “What value do you bring to the field?” I want quality for my buck…especially since bucks are so difficult to come by these days. So if I am going to proliferate my views and information, I have to be on the ball with the latest news, tips and tricks to get the ball rolling in my favor. The same applies to everyday conversation: what value do you bring to your playing field?
W. Wisdom. I would have loved to have met the likes of Socrates, Hippocrates, Edison and Franklin. Sometimes, I still luck up and run across an individual who provides me with years of sage and sound advice to get me on the straight and narrow. If you have experience on a particular topic, clue me and others in — that’s what social networking is all about.
X. eXtra. Do you go the extra mile? In both personal and professional communications, it is sometimes beneficial to make that extra distance to show how important a particular project is.
If someone asks you, “Do you know where to find so-and-so…?” Do you say, “I don’t know.” Or do you say, “I don’t know right now, but I’m going to find out” and then deliver that information? The way you respond and react in a situation can make the difference between long-term productivity or an end to a means.
Y. You. As mentioned in my article, “A-Zen Tweet Tips to Build a Dynamic Twitter Dynasty,” You make the difference in the real world. What are you contributing to the scene? Are you there for friendship, business partnerships, or just to voice your opinion? Whichever it is, or if a personal and professional combination, make your voice meaningful and informative.
Z. Zero Initiative. Are you a zero on the scale of social networking and in real-time communicating? What strides are you making to send clear and significant dialog? What steps are you taking to ensure a productive and valuable relationship? Don’t be a zero, be a hero…and you may just realize that others see you as the strong, intelligible and capable person that you are.
Most importantly, don’t be the “Leona Helmsley of Social Media”. You have made great strides to earn your presence and your reputation on the net and in the real world, why kill it by becoming the king or queen of mean?
Are you the Leona Helmsley of Social Media?
by CarolAnn Bailey-Lloyd – Social Media, Philosophy and More!
Seasoned Social Media Specialist, Professional Blogger,
Ghost Writer, Freelance Journalist & Web Consultant