Communicating on the Internet is equivalent to having a face-to-face conversation with someone, except that your dialogue takes place over a network. Emailing, chatting, texting, tweeting, etc., has become a popular form of communication. You can have a conversation with anyone from anywhere and get up-to-date information on what is happening when and where at an instant. This is great, but as with any good thing, you still have to be careful.
Basic practices you should be acquainted with:
- Be attentive of what you write on posts or comments, as everyone will see it. Be respectful and follow the ‘Do Not’ rules mentioned in the previous post on Netiquette.
- Be aware that what is written might be archived or replicated. Deleting or sending an email or chat to trash does not wipe it out completely. So be careful of what you write.
- Be cautious of whom you email/chat with. Make sure you know and trust the individual you are communicating with.
- Be wary and guard yourself against any unwanted email, web sites, or links that you are not familiar with and that do not seem legitimate. This may lead to viruses, bugs, or hidden programs that could corrupt and destroy your system.
- Be careful of your spelling of words as a misspelling can cause a huge misunderstanding. You do not want to be known as the individual who recorded Mr. Mary Jones when you meant Mrs. Mary Jones.
- Be conservative when using acronyms. There are an infinite number of acronyms and there are an abundance of similar acronyms having different meanings. If an abbreviation is used, spell out what it represents before continuously using it as the reader might not be familiar with it. Also, limit its usage.
- Be concise when emailing. In general, enter the purpose of the email in the subject line using as few words as possible to explain the content of the email. Within a business environment, if the content of the email is lengthy, include it as an attachment.
- Be sure you read your correspondence carefully. Make sure you read and understand what is in the email-do not assume. Else, you might reply incorrectly to the email and a host of miscommunications can occur. Likewise, be diligent and reread what you’ve written to ensure that what you’ve written will be understood.
- Be sensitive of the tone you use while writing as the reader cannot see your visual expression and cannot distinguish sarcasm nor annoyance from pure statements; be cordial.
- Be aware that management likes point-by-point information in an email, like a telegram, whereas you can write more informally to a co-worker.
In essence, when writing, chatting, or posting on the Internet, make believe you are conversing face-to-face with that person or group. Be polite and be sensitive to them. As the old saying goes, ‘Put yourself in their shoes’. Or, as the new saying (The Platinum Rule) goes, ‘Treat others the way they would like to be treated’.