Rapid advancements in technology continue to create new ways to communicate, create, share — and slip up. Mistakes that at one time would have been quickly forgotten now have the potential to live forever online. Meanwhile, people can’t seem to put down the tools that help them connect with others and work more effectively, leading to questions about how appropriate it is to remain perpetually plugged in.
Today’s high-tech world calls for vigilance, good judgment and excellent etiquette. In a survey by our company, 76 percent of human resources managers said technical etiquette breaches can adversely affect a person’s career prospects. Here are five tips for avoiding some of the most common digital protocol pitfalls:
- Don’t gripe, groan or gossip. Many people have gotten into the bad habit of using social media sites as virtual complaint boxes. While it might momentarily feel cathartic to vent about workplace annoyances online, publicly complaining about your colleagues only makes you look bad.
The next time you’re tempted to sound off about a micro-managing art director or demanding client, count to 10 and consider the consequences. Just one ill-advised post seen by the wrong person can damage your reputation — or even cost you your job. As the saying goes, act in haste, repent in leisure.
- Skip the snark.Twitter, Facebook and online design forums are great resources for fostering dialogue and sharing information about industry trends. Unfortunately, some individuals use these platforms to showcase their sarcasm rather than highlighting their knowledge and expertise.
It’s fine to have a strong point of view about design work as long as your comments are informed, constructive and carefully worded; snarky criticism of a new logo or website redesign adds nothing meaningful to the discussion.
- Use your smartphone wisely. Until there’s an app available for good meeting etiquette, it’s up to you to mind your manners. Fixating on your iPhone during brainstorming sessions doesn’t send the message that you’re a proficient multi-tasker; it signals that you’re distracted, bored or just plain rude.
Be considerate of your colleagues and keep your smartphone out of sight. If you’re expecting an urgent call or message that will require immediate attention, tell the meeting facilitator at the outset that you may need to briefly excuse yourself.
- Communicate clearly. Considering the high volume of e-mail most professionals send, occasional misunderstandings are bound to occur. But you can cut back on unnecessary (and frustrating) back-and-forth messaging simply by slowing down and focusing.
Write clear and specific subject lines, break big blocks of text into bullet points, and proofread for both clarity and grammatical accuracy. Avoid using texting shorthand and design lingo that might confuse clients or co-workers from other departments. And don’t add to others’ overflowing inboxes by copying them on messages that aren’t relevant to them.
- Give to receive. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn make it easy for you to reach out for recommendations, introductions, job leads, business advice or other forms of career assistance. But online networking is a two-way street that requires time and care. Self-serving networkers who surface only when they need help don’t establish many long-term connections. Remember: The more helpful you are to members of your network, the more likely they’ll be to return the favor.
Resources to Master Social Media
- The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective & Powerful Ways to Use Social Media.
- The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games and Anytime Media Means for Our Future.