5 Tips for Engaging in Effective, Positive Digital/Online Communication 

Here’s a fun fact many may not know: July 17th is World Emoji Day! As silly as this day might seem, it points to how much our communication has changed since the late 1990s when emojis became part of our regular, digital communication. 

With as many fun, creative, unique, and potentially subjective ways we have to communicate, here are some tips for communicating authentically and effectively in our world of online communication. Or, as some refer to this skill set, “Netiquette.” 

  1. Be Human: One of the biggest challenges with online communication is the potential lack of in-person sensitivity, cultural patterns, and communication cues. In order to have a positive online relationship, we should think about it similarly to in-person. When we first meet someone online it is helpful to introduce ourselves, say “nice to meet you”, exchange pleasantries, etc. As we continue in relationships we need to consider if we should remain professional, or if it is more personal and strike the appropriate tone. And, regardless of the type of relationship, remember that there is a human with feelings on the other side of the messages we are sending.  
  1. “Clarity and Brevity are Close to Godliness”: This is not a theological statement but, instead, one my graduate professor often used regarding our papers. It is the concept that clear, brief communication is preferable to wordiness. This is also a good tactic for online communication where extra words and extra emotion can be more easily misinterpreted. When writing online communication it is helpful to write using common language rather than too much “jargon”, breaking up your text into smaller paragraphs, and utilizing installed proofreaders such as Grammarly
  1. Read Thoroughly, Respond Thoroughly: As many people can attest, one of the more frustrating aspects of online communication is taking the time to write an email, text, etc., and, after awaiting a response, not receiving an answer to the question we asked. It feels strange to ask someone a question in person and be ignored. The feeling is similar in online communication. This tends to happen because we may be in a hurry and not read carefully all of the messages that are sent our way, thus sending back incomplete responses. To avoid this, read carefully and pay close attention to any sentences that begin with inquiry words such as “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, “Where?”, “Why?”, and “How? 
  1. Every Word Leaves an Impression: In a major departure from in-person communication, digital communication is never erased and it can be read and re-read forever. While we should realize the power of our words in any form, it is important to continually build a positive online reputation. No matter your age or stage, when your number, email, or in-network chat box comes up, you want people excited and willing to read it. Being clear, kind, and responding within the timeframe common to your work/personal culture will help build this positive reputation. 
  1. When in Doubt, Change to In-Person: I know a few people who abide by the rule: “Three texts equals a phone call.” It is essentially the idea that if they are trying to figure something out and they’ve each texted three times, it might be easier to talk on the phone. If the subject of communication is sensitive, complicated, emotionally heightened, or has just been going on too long online and is not getting resolved, it may be time to talk in person. As efficient and effective as online communication can be, sometimes a good old-fashioned meeting, phone call, or lunch date is the better, more effective choice. 

Online communication is here to stay but, just because it is common, we don’t want to become complacent. Communication in any form is still passing messages from one human to another who each deserves dignity, compassion, respect, and helpfulness. By being aware of our humanity and following good “netiquette” we can better foster online relationships that are positive, effective, and lasting. 

And lastly, just for fun, here are a few more interesting facts about emojis for your day: 

  1. Emoji day was chosen because of the way the calendar emoji was designed 📅 
  1. Two Japanese words “picture” and “letter” blend together to make the world emoji 
  1. The English word “emotion” is only similar to “emoji” by coincidence 

Happy World Emoji Day! 🥳 🎉 😄 

Post published July 12, 2023 by Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo

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