Ms. Interwebz and Etiquette 3.0

by Shonali Burke on September 23, 2010

vintage 1960s Super Long Stretch White Opera Gloves

Back in the day

when business and social etiquette were acknowledged as necessities and not exceptions, there was a certain decorum that ruled: be polite, be kind and don’t interrupt.

However, it seems that as we’ve become more connected, we’ve also become more disconnected with the basic rules of engagement.

Although the reasons for this might be multi-factorial, e.g. multitasking or the modern need for immediate, instant gratification, the rules of engagement have not really changed.

To help us through these modern-day dilemmas, Women Grow Business is proud to welcome Ms. Interwebz, our favorite Agony Aunt, to our pages.

Read on for her first column.

Dear. Ms. Interwebz,

I’ve been tweeting for about two months now and I’m wondering how to break into conversations.

Is there a general roadmap I need to look at before or should I just jump right in?

Sincerely, Newbirdie

Dear Newbirdie,

There’s a general rule in social circles that applies whether you are on- or offline: “listen before you leap.”

It’s safe to assume that when folks are talking amongst themselves, they aren’t talking to you, right? By all means, join in; that’s the way we get to know one another and make new contacts.

However, don’t be the elephant in the room!

Ask yourself why you want to engage and, more importantly, whether or not you are focusing on your own goals or have an agenda that is different than the conversation at hand.

Dear Ms. Interwebz,

I witnessed three of my Twitter followers having a conversation the other day about a project I am intricately involved with that really ticked me off.

It was clear that they had their facts wrong and it was obvious that they were just shooting at the hip. What’s the best social rule of thumb here?


Stupid is as Stupid Does

Dear Stupid is as Stupid Does,

Make humor the first choice.

If you feel like you disagree or have been slighted, it’s critical to stand up and defend yourself, right?

Well, not so fast.

Step back and remember that sometimes people are engaged in conversation out of shortsightedness rather than evil.

On the networks or in an actual face-to-face situation, assume the best and then proactively and kindly let folks know that they have overstepped the boundaries of acceptable decorum.

What’s more, as my hero Miss Conduct says, “calm, self-assertion sprinkled with a wee bit of humor” may ultimately yield the best result.

Have a pressing question about social etiquette, engagement or networking? Ms. Interwebz is here to help, just shoot her an email.

Giving credit where credit is due, and more…

Image: Huzzah Vintage via Flickr, Creative Commons

Regular contributor Liz Scherer aka “Ms. Interwebz” continues to learn (and break) the social netiquette rules on a daily basis. A digital writer and consultant, Liz specializes in health/medicine/wellness. She produces Flashfree which brings her closer to her goal to engage, entertain and provide women in midlife with the tools to make informed decisions about their health. In addition to her blog, you can find Liz on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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