According to the Oxford English Dictionary: Etiquette is
a. The prescribed ceremonial of a court; the formalities required by usage in diplomatic intercourse.
b. The order of procedure established by custom in the army or navy (esp. with reference to promotion), in parliament, etc.
c. The conventional rules of personal behaviour observed in the intercourse of polite society; the ceremonial observances prescribed by such rules.
d. The unwritten code of honour by which members of certain professions (esp. the medical and legal) are prohibited from doing certain things deemed likely to injure the interests of their brethren, or to lower the dignity of the profession.
Etiquette over the years has changed dramatically, in fact many people would say that as the generations are passing by we are forgetting what it means to be polite and have manners. The advancement of technology over the years has also created hurdles for etiquette to try and leap over, such as the Internet. Certain people may scoff at the idea that realms such as the Internet have any need for etiquette, or even question its existence. However, even the all-official Oxford English Dictionary has Internet etiquette under its own heading… Netiquette is:
An informal code of practice regulating the behaviour of Internet users when using email, bulletin boards, chat rooms, newsgroups etc.
This extends to every possible aspect on the Internet. With the number of specific “platforms” we now have such as Facebook and Twitter, Netiquette provides its own rules for each type of media. As per usual, at Crossware we are interested specifically in all things email. After searching around to see what others have said on the topic (trust me, this topic is well-covered!), I would like to share the following link to the Netmanners website – Click here
Netmanners is an absolutely awesome site to keep you updated on all things related to netiquette. As Judith from Netmanners.com explains, a lack of expected email etiquette can very easily lead to scaring away any prospective business. I urge you to have a good read of the Netmanner’s link on email etiquette, however here’s a brief summary outlining the “10 common courtesies” that Judith runs through:
- Courtesy 1: Get to know the basics – Some basic online courtesies that every Average Joe should know such as: Don’t type in all caps; don’t leave the subject field blank; be careful around “BCC:” (see our post for tips here); do not forward virus warnings. This run-down through the basics, even if you stop there, will give most people enough edge to engage in email life with some decent etiquette.
- Courtesy 2: Online perception is the only reality – Emails should be written as if you were talking face-to-face with the person, don’t let the fact that you’re behind a screen become detrimental to your level of communication courtesy.
- Courtesy 3: Proofread, spellcheck, proper grammar – Similar to our post on email job applications here. You should treat every email as if you were applying for a corporate job, double-check for those embarassing typos before you click send.
- Courtesy 4: Always include a closing – Always, always, always end your emails with some form of closing, such as “Regards”. Do you ever finish a conversation by simply turning your back and walking away? Ok, I mean a conversation, NOT an argument! It’s the same with emails, once again – Email as if you’re face-to-face with the person.
- Courtesy 5: Use instant messaging properly – This goes into a bit of depth… Pretty much, learn how to use your instant messenger correctly with all the features. One key point is to make sure you use instant messaging at the right time and place, from the perspective of both you AND the person you’re talking to!
- Courtesy 6: Always respond promptly – I’ll let you ponder this one for yourself. Although here Judith also talks about “down-editing” to tidy those long email conversations.
- Courtesy 7: Do not spam – Check out our post on email and the “Opt-In” concept here for some tips on ensuring that your emails don’t become spam.
- Courtesy 8: You are what you write – Write clearly in the way that you want to be regarded, and never assume what other people are saying. Interpret their words as they stand otherwise you could find yourself in trouble and digging a hole.
- Courtesy 9: Don’t fall for flamers, jerks or “trolls” – Some people in this world are out there solely to pick a fight. It’s best to not get caught up in their antics and walk away, you will be seen as “the bigger man”.
- Courtesy 10: Help and share with others – Remember that you’re not interacting with robots. The text, images and videos you interact with online all belong to human beings, treat them as such!
Moral of the story – Do not email anything that you would not be prepared to say directly to somebody’s face.