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We Are All Guilty
We ALL do it. We are so busy and pressured to get everything done that we dash off an email without reading it through, checking the spelling, and so on. Or we make a comment, or what we think is a joke, in an email or on one of the social networks - only to find at the end of our plane flight that our boss has fired us. The young lady who made a racist tweet discovered to her cost that anything you say can and WILL be repeated or passed around online.
In this article, we will discuss some of the major trouble spots in online and offline communication, and how a few simple changes can lead to big results.
One of the main issues with email is the lack of "tone" of voice that you would get from speaking to someone in person or on the phone. Email lacks the human touch. If you are working in a cubicle-based office where the people on your team are sitting right next to you but you always email, it might be time to get a bit chattier with them in the real world.
If what you need to discuss is something important that includes other people, by all means use email. Or, speak to them and then confirm via email what you understood to be the most important points and action steps.
Before hitting the SEND button, take the time to check over your email to be sure you are as clear as possible and that it is error-free. A good rule of thumb in any corporate communication is to never send an email you would be embarrassed to see posted online.
This is especially true of customer service replies. Customers are the lifeblood of most businesses. Unskillful replies can and do filter to the top of social networks all the time, perhaps tarnishing your reputation or that of your company forever.
One CEO made the mistake of emailing one employee he trusted that he would be offline for a couple of days to deal with some personal problems. When he returned, it was to his worst nightmare. Some of his "trusted employees" had stolen valuable assets, and a larger company was going after him in a hostile takeover bid.
Social Media Strategies
In terms of social media and online discussions, only contribute the bare minimum and never venture any personal information that might be used against you in some way.
If you feel you have something really helpful to say to others, join in. But don't use the network as a soapbox to spout your own views. Every post or tweet should be about your customers, not you.
If you want to advance your career as an expert in your industry, don't try to prove it by boasting about your skills and accomplishments. Your expertise will speak for itself when you give intelligent response to a person's most pressing problems.
Finally, never "flame" anyone on a social network or discussion board, and do not respond in kind if you are. That would lower you to their level. The best thing is to ignore it. If you feel you can’t ignore the flame, simply say that everyone has their own perceptions. Remember, our relationships are as much about what we do as what we don’t do. Be courteous and polite to others and see what a difference it can make to all your business and online relationships.