With the continual growth of the digital workplace and social media, it is tricky to combine business etiquette and personal manners online. But still, it’s an extremely important skill to master. Think of this article as the Emily Post of online etiquette!
10 Rules for Healthy Digital Workplace Etiquette
Emily Post might be proud. These ten tips will help maintain a professional and proper digital workplace.
1. Be On Time
Early is on time, and on time is late. Punctuality is the golden rule. In some cases, this is an opportunity for you to make a first impression. Be considerate of your colleagues time and place a value on it. Be early. When a person is late, it shows a lack of respect and starts your meeting out on a bad foot. Business etiquette demands that you are on time.
2. Get Personal
Never, ever hit “reply all”. It’s just a good rule to follow. Memos and company-wide emails are very impersonal and can be cause for concern. Worst case scenario, you can generate a completely embarrassing faux-pas so never write an e-mail or memo to everyone or large groups. Instead, write your communications personally and keep the recipient list as small as possible. Remember that anything you write can come back to haunt you. So, be careful always. Business etiquette means never “reply all”.
3. Follow Through
Be a person of your word and follow through with your commitments. It may not seem like it, but people notice. If you are a consistent person of your word, your reputation will benefit. Making your colleagues wait is bad for business. Business etiquette means you should always follow through and be a person of your word.
4. Establish Clear Expectations
Establishing clear expectations might be one of the most important tips in this list. If you “over sell” something, then most likely be pleased when your project is followed through with and complete. Business etiquette means you should always define clear and appropriate expectations.
5. Respond Regularly
Be clear and up front. This tip is a parallel to establishing clear expectations. If you are not able to get to a task immediately, take the time to communicate. If you can’t handle a request immediately, take a few seconds to reply and let your colleagues or clients know. Business etiquette includes responding appropriately.
6. Keep Everything in One Place
Consistency can make your system more precise. Keep all the company files in one location and set a clear procedure for your team so that all the necessary digital files are easier to find. It’s a more secure system. It’s a more professional system. Business etiquette means you should establish a clear procedures for team work with manners.
7. Explain Why or Why Not
Explaining why is the most respectful way to decline a request or offer an alternative course of action. Rather than appearing to be an online dictator, explain your reasoning and subordinates and clients will more respect your decisions. Business etiquette means to always act with respect.
8. Use Emoticons Wisely
In our personal lives, it may seem like a real time-saver to use emoticons. But in the professional world, emoticons will diminish the professionalism of your message. The safest way is to stick with the basics in and some cases, make a rule to yourself that you never use them in a business setting. Business etiquette means that emoticons should not be used in a business email or text because they do not make for good manners.
9. Be Specific
Again, this tip is as important as establishing clear expectations and responding regularly. Be specific. Do not be vague and do not leave anything to chance. It’s just not worth the time savings that you might generate by being approximate.
- Keep communications simple and to the point. More words mean more possibility for confusion.
- Clearly state your request and urgent details in the first paragraph. Your readers will appreciate it.
- Be polite and do not beat around the bush. A roundabout message can be confusion. Be to-the-point and do not ramble your message. This may ensure that your message has more weight. Business etiquette demands that you are direct and to-the-point.
10. Say Please and Thank You
This one may seem like a given, but you would not realize how often people will forget to say please and thank you. Verbal communication is much for effective if presented in a polite manner. Thank you notes should be sent within 24 hours (Yes, I know. It’s an old-fashioned policy, but it generates such a positive impression – it’s well worth your time).
If you prefer, write a thank you note the night of the event. This way, when you arise the following day, the task is already done and all you need to do is mail the letter or click send. It’s best to not deliver your message until the following day, however, in case you had more than a business manners one-cocktail. Unfortunately tone is much more difficult to communicate in writing and for this reason, a polite manner will go a long way. Business etiquette means always be humble and kind.
Believe it or not, the digital workplace in still in its infancy. For this reason, it’s important to remind ourselves about etiquette in the online workplace.