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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 24, 2011 • Issue 11:01:02


Navigating with grace through the electronic world

Editor's Note:

Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The advent of email and social networks has changed many of our communication habits - and not always for the better. Long gone are the days of writing eloquent personal letters that are considered charming even when imparting unpleasant news. Today, we can get so caught up in the instant nature of our culture that we even forget basic manners.

Follow these tips to ensure that you do not inadvertently hinder yourself or others while doing business in the electronic world.

Tips to the wise

  • Email: Email can be an impersonal form of communication. Recipients may read emotions and implications into email messages that the senders never intended to convey. If you are questioning the meaning of a particular message, instead of jumping to conclusions, politely ask the person who sent it to you what his or her intent was. We all know how dangerous assumptions can be.

    If you are upset, never write an email in the heat of the moment. You may say things you wouldn't dream of saying in person. Once you hit Send, you can't take back words written in anger. Wait for your emotions to cool down. Also, if you are unsure whether the tone of a message is appropriate, ask someone else to read it before you send it. Sometimes a new set of eyes spots things you missed.

  • Social networks: These can be tricky. Many of us mix our personal friends and work colleagues on these sites. Always make sure your posts won't offend either of these groups. Failure to do this can have severe consequences. Your family really doesn't need to know what you think of a particular client, and merchants are almost never impressed by public disagreements.

    Also, keep your language appropriate, and avoid using too many acronyms. For example, IMHO, acronyms FTL (NVM LOL, JK). Seems a bit ridiculous, doesn't it?

  • Online forums: Forums can put a world of likeminded people at your fingertips within seconds. However, those of you who frequent the GS Online forums know that treading into these waters can be problematic if you don't use common sense. Stay on topic, and avoid those who attempt to engage you in arguments that veer into unproductive territory.

    While it is always fine to state your point of view, it is never necessary to call other users names or belittle them. This just frustrates people and may generate ill will from the forum's administrators.

    The need for respect

    Electronic communications have enriched our lives. We can now have global conversations instantly. Friends we haven't seen in years have suddenly become accessible. We can conduct business from the comfort of our own homes.

    But remember, it is essential that we all strive to present our best face to the world at all times. The best way to earn the respect of others is to show them respect. end of article

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