Civility, social grace and common courtesy… shouldn’t rules of etiquette in the real world simply carry over to the virtual realm? Why do some people think that hiding behind an online profile excuses them from rude, crude behavior?
Manners matter. As Will Cuppy says, “Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely necessary.” Here are nine lessons I learned from Dale Carnegie that guides my social media interactions.
1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
A survey conducted by Real Simple Magazine indicates that chronic complaining is the second most annoying kind of social media post, preceded only by vague posts. Negative attitudes are more virulent than positive ones. And while criticizing others might make you feel better, it’s often an exercise in futility because it simply puts others on the defensive. Then the cycle repeats.
Mena Trott, Time Magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year once said, “If you aren’t going to say something directly to someone’s face, than don’t use online as an opportunity to say it. It is this sense of bravery that people get when they are anonymous that gives the blogosphere a bad reputation.” Keep in mind that anything you post on the web becomes public domain.
On that note, check out these 13 posts that got people fired from their jobs.
Williams James says that “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Satisfy this hunger with a small gesture – reply back or post a comment.
Don’t have time to scribble something in 140 characters or less? Hit the “LIKE” button. Retweet. Share. Simple actions that cost nothing and take no time at all, but show sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want
Charles Schwab, chosen by Andrew Carnegie to run the U.S. Steel Company in 1921, was the first person to be paid a salary of over a million dollars a year. He was hand-picked by Carnegie because of his ability to arouse enthusiasm in others. What do people want? To survive. To be safe. To belong. To be recognized. To achieve. And sometimes, simply to be entertained. The only radio station playing in other people’s heads is WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), so keep this in mind when crafting posts.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people
For me, online networks are for connecting with people, for supplementing real-world interactions, fueling conversations, and forging new relationships. Thus, I don’t find it critical to accept every “friend” or “connection” request; neither do I feel compelled to auto-follow everyone that follows me. I’m a human being with limited time and energy. I don’t want to have to fake interest. That way, I can focus my attention on people and issues I truly care about.
Need I say more? 🙂
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
I hate to admit it, but one of my favorite morning activities is checking the Connect tab on Twitter and the Notifications button on Facebook. Everyday, it’s like opening a present – I eagerly dive in to discover who has replied, commented or mentioned me overnight.
Responding to a comment or a post? Put in the extra effort and tag the other person’s name so that they become aware of the interaction. Posting photos from an event? Tag the images of those in it. People love seeing photos of themselves. As with anything, tag with caution and care (lest the tags cause embarrassment for your family and friends, or are completely unwelcome – refer to Principle 9).
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
What’s the difference between a gossip, a bore, and a brilliant conversationalist? A gossip talks about others, a bore talks about himself, a brilliant conversationalist lets you do most of the talking. Building an online relationship isn’t a one way street. Reading and responding to other people’s posts is simply good manners.
When posting, keep in mind that that the world wide web isn’t your big wide billboard. It’s not just about broadcasting and self-promotion, but rather engaging others in conversation.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
As people peruse the web, they are looking for posts, blogs and articles that will make them be better, feel better or do things better. Commandments #2, #3, #4, #6 and #9 in the PC World article “10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette” all allude to this principle. As the author, JP Raphael notes, “Social media is not a private diary. If you’re going to share something with your friends, make it something they’ll actually understand.” And may I add, enjoy.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely
There is nothing worse than getting tagged on event posters, promotional posts, or random crap that has absolutely nothing to do with you. After falling victim to this several times, I updated my privacy settings and de-activated automatic tags and posts to my Facebook Timeline. Yes, I enjoy being tagged, but only if it has something to do with me. I assume that other people feel the same way. Rather, I try to be “lavish in my approbation and hearty in my praise,” by freely acknowledging and sincerely complementing posts that make me pause, think, feel good, and most of all, laugh.
One of the ways to do this on Twitter is to acknowledge people you are following by adding them to descriptive lists. For example, I have a list called “Rockstar Entrepreneurs” consisting of men and women who have changed the world with their visions and ideas along with Digital Divas, women who rule the social media-sphere.
The Bottom Line
Sincere appreciation goes a long way. Dale Carnegie says “it is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.” Online and otherwise, a good lesson to learn is that proper etiquette and being “liked” has less to do with being likeable, but rather with genuinely “liking” others. Pass it on.