Do you ever read emails and notice the negative tone it portrays? There is either a mean or depressing vibe in the content. When you are in front of someone, the character of your voice, expressions from your face as well as gestures, enhance the subject you are talking about. This does not apply with online communication.
Digital communication can turn into “flame wars.” Everything we say can be taken offensively and only quickly intensifies from there. What do you think the backlash is?
Below are a few steps to encouraging polite online communication:
Method #1: Watch out for the negativity. Be aware of how your content is being viewed. Could you be more descriptive? Does it have a light tone to it or does it come off in a negative tone?
Method #2: Monitor your grammar. Convey your communication the way it should be perceived. Do not ever say something you do not really mean – it can become a huge problem. Read your emails a few times before pressing the send button.
Method #3: Use happy faces. You can change any tone by using an emoticon and the clarity of the information you are trying to tell them. They are not silly, but they may save you from repercussions.
Method #4: Phrase your demands into questions. Ask the person who is receiving the email, “Can you do this?” instead of “Do this.” You do not want to make it sound like you are placing blame on them.
Method #5: Do not be afraid to be corny. You want to first start off the right way in any discussion. Begin with being thankful to them, then tell them what you would like done or done differently. For example, “Thank you for the changes, I just have a few additions to suggest.” It may seem kind of lame, but it will prevent any misunderstanding. You do not want to make them seem that their work was not done right in the first place.
Method #6: Is email even the right tool to be using? Maybe the message is not appropriate for email, but using a project management system instead (i.e. Action Method, Yammer or Maven Link). These tools can disguise everyone’s emotions. On the plus side, you even end up sharing each other’s expertise.
Because of the emotional deficit in emails, we end up always having to add smiley faces, write our sentences over and having to say bad news with a positive end to it. Basically, we end up wasting precious time.
What are your tips to conveying positive online communication?