10 Digital Etiquette Tips

Email has been a part of our everyday communication for years. It blows my mind that some of you never knew a world without email. I’m only 34 years old and I can say, “Gee, I remember the days when we didn’t have email and we wrote letters!” But even more so than email we also have social media outlets to add to the list. Yes, we have a lot on our plate. But does that mean we should sidestep some simple etiquette when it comes to our digital communications? Nope.

So I'd like to share 10 points to consider when communicating with others through the various digital devices: 

1) Respond in a timely manner 

It doesn’t matter if it is through email or social media outlets; you need to respond to people in a timely manner. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you don’t have time to completely respond to a message, or you don’t have all of the details gathered right away, a simple, “I got your message and I will get back to you shortly,” is needed. It shows the other person that you respect their time and needs and shows that you are working on the matter at hand.

2) Keep your message short, sweet, and to the point

Have you ever heard of the inverted pyramid?  This is a metaphor that journalists, writers, and marketers use where they share the most important information is at the top of the message and then it filters down from there. It’s really when you have to weed through an email to get to the actual point. And if you go on and on...oy, it’s really annoying. Getting right to the point and keeping things short and sweet will help keep the reader’s attention.

3) Be mindful of the "cc"

If you are included on a message with several others CC’ed in the message and your answer only really pertains to one person, don’t CC the entire group back. That is unless your answer does pertain to everyone. Be mindful of who needs to know what.

4) Answer all of the questions in the message

One of my biggest pet peeves (and one for others, I have found out) is when you have several questions listed in a message and only one of those questions is responded to. Take the time to look over the entire message and make sure you answered everything the recipient needs. It saves so much time and helps both out considerably.

5) Watch your tone

I’ve said this over and over again; the written word can be taken in many different ways. Messages and email don’t have the benefit of inflection or tone to go along with them. And even though sarcasm is so much fun in a face-to-face conversation it can be taken the wrong way in a written message. Especially if it is someone who doesn’t know you or your humor. Keep your message as direct as possible.

6) Use spell-check

This is available on any and every digital device...so use it! It reflects poorly of you if you have multiple misspelled words. Brush up on the proper use of ‘your,’ ‘you’re,' ‘there,’ ‘their,’ etc. But make sure that your spell-check is on and re-read your message carefully before you send it. Make sure all is well and fire away.

7) Provide additional options

I deal with this when setting up various interviews with clients that I work with. If we get an interview I ask for several day and time options that might work for them. The same goes when setting up a meeting or lunch/dinner with someone. Instead of only providing one day/time that will work, why not give several options? That way you can avoid a bunch of back and forth emails.

8) Be mindful of who sees your message

If multiple people are copied on an email, or a message posted on Facebook, Tweets, and so on, be mindful of who sees what. If it is a public message remember that everyone will see it so choose your words wisely. And if there is a question of it being offensive, obscene, etc., stay away from it.

9) Don't respond in anger

It’s just a good rule of thumb to take an hour or even a day to cool off before you respond to an email or message that made you mad.  I’ve never met someone who regretted waiting to cool off before responding to a message in the “heat of the moment.” I have met many people (myself included) who regret sending emails while they were angry. So take the time to chill out, process the situation, and respond in a respectful and mindful manner.

10) Follow-up with others

If you sent someone a message and they didn’t follow etiquette rule #1 on this list, be sure to follow-up with them. Don’t miss an opportunity on your end for their untimely response. There is a fine line between being persistent and being annoying. If you aren’t in a huge rush and they don’t respond in a week, message them back. If you need a response right away, follow-up with them.

These are just a few suggestions to keep in mind when communicating through the multitude of outlets that we have available to us. I think the overall message is show respect to others. That’s the big thing. If you have other ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

QUESTION: Do you have anything to add to the list? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below...

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