Nothing seems to be left untouched by the pandemic, including emails. Standard salutations such as ‘best wishes’ or ‘regards’ were replaced by more personalised and sympathetic ones like ‘Stay indoors and safe’, ‘Sincerely in these strange times’ or, to infuse some humour, ‘Sent from my living room’. The point is the general tenor of emails has become more considerate and genuine, especially considering how our tech-dependency has surged sizeably.
This opens up a discussion on internet behaviour or what is now being called ‘netiquette’. A portmanteau of the internet and etiquette, it is a collection of guidelines to maintain a comfortable and efficient online environment. Netiquette, like traditional etiquette, works differently in different social scenarios. But overarching ideas such as ‘be kind’ or ‘respect all people’ remain the same. This article gives you a list of fundamental netiquette norms that are worth internalising, especially when online meetings are the order of the day.
Table of contents:
The same works for sounds too. When you have many people living in your house, a schedule display works best. Everybody respects the others’ video call timings and does little things, like not running the blender, to make lives easier.
- Respect the purpose of the group. Since a lot more of our lives are now online, it is important to separate the personal and the professional. Messages or forwards meant for friends are inappropriate in a workgroup. If the agenda of the group is specified, stick to it. Even if you are wishing a colleague for his/her birthday, make it a personal text rather than flooding the group.
- Share consciously. The internet is not anonymous as you think it is. Nothing that goes online is truly private and will stay there for a long time. Keep that in mind before sharing anything personal or something that might be construed as offensive.
- Respect privacy. Just as you are concerned about yours, you need to respect others’ privacy. Get permission before you screenshot or record an online live session.
- Formalities matter. While online spaces are considerably less formal than physical ones, it does not imply that you can address people casually. Adherence to formalities in any online session depends upon the people involved. Use appropriate titles and respectful addresses, until they allow you to address them casually. If you are linking your social media profiles to your professional email, ensure that your social media handles are work appropriate.
- Be prepared. This includes both mentally and physically. Sign in a few minutes before start time, keep your stationery handy to take notes, and present yourself well. If you are expected to turn on your video, be dressed appropriately. Run a test on your camera and mic and keep it ready.
- Time is an essential commodity. Working from home or studying from home does not mean that schedules no longer exist. Punctuality is an admirable quality and indicates respect. Join a meeting on time, submit projects by deadlines, and give yourself time goals to complete tasks.
- Be inclusive. Disagreeing with someone is acceptable. What matters is how you do it. Everyone’s opinions carry the same value and deserve to be heard. Interrupting someone in the middle of their sentence is unparliamentary. When you find the topic going out of hand or becoming too one-sided, feel free to moderate and bring the discussion back on track.
The internet and its anonymity equation have undergone a paradigm shift. It is as varied and diverse and has made our relationship with it more nuanced. We lean on this medium quite heavily for both work and play, and the onus is on us to demarcate these two areas.
Online bullying and bad behaviour take a toll on our mental health, which is already fragile, reeling from the effects of the lockdown. Following some general guidelines that make us more empathetic will certainly help us all in creating safer and more inclusive workspaces.
Read: What is the Internet of Behaviours