We live in times where more business discussions take place on digital platforms, making it important to know how to present oneself professionally while using digital tools. Digital etiquette is not stressed enough in organisations yet it is important to today’s society as the generations use more technology and rely more on the internet.
At the 24th Annual seminar organised by Institute of Certified Public Accountants at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, Entebbe recently, Doreen Rwakatungu Musiime, the head of internal audit Uganda and regional head East Africa region, Stanbic Bank, speaks on a key subject about business and social etiquette for organisational success.
“Etiquette refers to the standards that govern the socially acceptable behaviour in any given situation. It is about providing social comfort under an environment for people to feel comfortable around other people.” Musiime says.
Musiime says 73 per cent of companies do not have an official social media policy. Some companies develop a social media policy in response to a major PR disaster. One ought to be associated with a digital identity that leaves good online footprint since everything online can be traced to you through a search engine such as Google.
Patrick Obita, the manager Digital Services at MTN, says social media policies and guidelines should be accessible to the employees and outlined with clear repercussions for not adhering to the provisions of the policies or guidelines.
The employees need to be trained on using the various digital platforms and it should not be taken for granted. The competence to utilise the digital platforms in the right manner is very vital and this can be enhanced with training.
“Some of the pillars of digital etiquette include respect, integrity, treating others as you would treat them in a real life, sense of self management. Take general responsibility of your actions while using the internet. It is important to adopt the THINK slogan, before one posts or sends a text or image. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind?” she adds.
Some of the examples of bad etiquette on social media include trolling, flaming (act of violent arguing or profane language), and cyber bullying (online form of bullying). Poor social media traits can bring down an organisation and one’s profession.
Social media etiquette
Obita emphasises that social media clients want to interact with employees that are authentic. The question is how does one portray an authentic self in this virtual digital world?
Authenticity helps in the effective communication in the various digital platforms the messages are shared. Social media; ensure that the profile you are using has your full names and profile photos as much as possible.
Be watchful of the tone on social media; only publish posts that add value to your brand. Also read your posts before you post it.”
Musiime adds that communication etiquette relies on six core values that include conciseness, completeness, consideration, concreteness, courtesy and correctness.
Nowadays employers do social media screening as background checks and opt to use LinkedIn for head hunting.
Complete your profile with honesty, put the right profile picture and prioritise quality over quantity; be professional about it so that you don’t lose credibility.
For one to administer social media etiquette, they ought to ensure positive interactions with followers, posting should be professional and intended for public audience. Resist the temptation to use auto reply.
However, many workplaces form groups used to chat and share updates on whatever they are doing. Obita says some people have forgotten to draw a line between official and personal business when using WhatsApp.
“Good email etiquette is about doing the right thing; reply with care and never use an emoji on email because it is a permanent record, respond quickly to emails and be consistent using diplomacy and constructive criticism. Have a balance between positive and negative criticism.”
Musiime adds, 40 per cent of corporate people do not want emails with exclamation marks and bold letters because they can be interpreted as rude. Intend to be simple and formal. You need to be concise and straight to the point than sending a very long email that is unclear.
These emails have to be formal and watch the tone of the email. Imagine receiving an email that is bolded, upper cased and in red colour and you are reading this information. I can assure you that you will be terrified.
Phone etiquette involves use of a helpful tone; introduce yourself, speaking clearly and use of formal language for mutual respect. Video phone calls easily show off one’s demeanour. Active listening is very important in terms of when somebody is talking to you; how do you make sure you listen and not just hear.
It is accompanied by your body language, gestures (on video calls) and how to manage distractions around you while responding to the conversation one is having. The way we engage our colleagues, clients, a customer can actually tell when you aren’t listening to them by asking them to repeat themselves.
Musiime advises people to always be respectful of time zones on virtual platforms. Attitude is about inner self. Putting all aside and coming with the right attitude to listen.
She classifies different stages of listening that include receiving, (focus on hearing, isolate the message), understanding (attempt to learn the meaning of the message), remembering (if you can’t remember then you weren’t listening), evaluating (judging the value of the message) and feedback (stage at which you indicate your involvement).