Continuing the mission of spreading good manners and kindness in our online world, today's focus is on:
- Enhancing your online written communication to avoid possible conflict
- Watching the content you post; mind your readers!
To start, let's have a look at an example: I am writing to you, whether it is via e-mail, instant messenger, blog comments section, Facebook, Orkut or any other social medium: "I think you did the right thing" You probably know what I am making reference to when I write this to you, however, you don't really know how I am telling you this. Am I confident in my words? Am I rather skeptic? Maybe I am happy? Notice that I didn't use punctuation in the sentence on purpose. You don't know how many e-mails I receive with no punctuation. It's almost like a written nightmare. Without punctuation, you run the risk of total misinterpretation. Let's not get into grammar coaching here, but I cannot emphasize enough how important commas, exclamation and question marks or periods are. I was perplexed when a high school counselor e-mailed me an email with no greeting and closing note, and no use of punctuation! Uff! Enhancing your words with adjectives, adverbs punctuation and "visual words" helps your reader understand how you are expressing yourself in your written delivery. It helps your reader "listen to your voice" when he/she reads your mail.
"I honestly think you did the right thing, without a doubt in my mind!" conveys the full idea: What you want to say and how you want to say it.
Instead of replying to an e-mail by writing: "That's a good start. Keep it up.", write: "I think the first ideas you showed in your table are a wonderful way to start the project. It gives it dimension. Keep up the good work you demonstrated in that table and the bullet points below. Let's bring more content to it, though." People can't read what your entire thoughts are, and while assuming is something we just have to do on a daily basis anyway, if you are expecting a 2-way communication to be truly effective, make sure you enhance your written e-mail communication.
Time should never be an issue here. It takes just a few more seconds to add words, explanations, "smiley faces" and question marks. In addition, by taking 1 additional minute to write it out, you'll be saving time later on not having to explain what you meant in the first place.
Once I wrote an e-mail to a training manager. It had about 2 small paragraphs with a few questions and thoughts I had. The answer I received was (and I will never forget my reaction to it): "Call me as soon as you can." Was he upset? Was he in a huge hurry? Was he at least somewhat happy about what I had sent him? I was confused by the too short and almost rude answer. I didn't know what to make of it. On the phone, soon after, our conversation was delightful! Had he sent an enhanced e-mail, he would have been able to communicate with me much more efficiently and avoid any misinterpretation!
Second topic: Watch the content you post! I read a comment someone posted about certain presentations being "so lame". Not only did this person insult all the other classmates who share the same social medium online and who were actually presenting on that day, but the content posted created a "did you see what So&So wrote?!" type of online gossip. Now, that is something we all don't have time for. A friend of mine decided to blog about her "dumb colleagues who think they know it all" and wrote a paragraph about one certain lady. The lady ended up reading it, and my friend's reputation was drastically affected. Negatively, needless to say. She had to apologize by blogging about it. Another one commented on a certain holiday being "so fake and consumption driven" and "a waste and ridiculous", not taking into consideration that others in his own tight circle celebrate it all the way, and love it. What are you trying to do to yourself, I ask? I never advocate against critique, however, it can always be done in a kinder way. There is no doubt about that.
Remember, nothing is ever totally deleted in our world wide web.