We live in a world where you can do almost anything online. You can take classes and earn a degree, search and apply for a job, keep up with friends, communicate with almost anyone instantly, and find answers to literally almost any question. This is an era of instant gratification and information overload. With this world comes great advantages. However, it also has new challenges that didn’t exist before online communication was so prevalent. Follow these three tips in order to master the art of online communication.
Make Yourself As Clear As Possible
It can be difficult to be sure of someone’s mood or the meaning behind their words when you aren’t speaking to them directly. All too often, messages get misinterpreted and feelings get hurt because we take social cues from facial expressions and verbal indicators, which aren’t usually part of online communication. Be sure to state your message clearly and unambiguously, and if necessary, preface it with a statement about your feelings or stance on what you are saying. Ambiguity in online correspondence can be the downfall of effective communication whether you are emailing a professor, texting a friend, or posting on a message board.
Be Professional When Summoned
Speaking of emailing a professor, knowing when to be formal in your communication can prevent the recipient from deeming you unprofessional, immature, or less capable. Communicating with superiors, professors, or any business communication should be free of slang, sarcasm, or emojis. Make sure to check your grammar, spelling and always read over what you wrote before your send or submit it. Reviewing and editing always work in your favor. Remember, even though the recipient can’t see or hear you, you still always want to give the best impression possible.
Avoid Insults and Ad Hominems
Ranting and throwing an online temper tantrum isn’t any more becoming than doing it in person. Be conscious of other’s thoughts and feelings, even if you disagree with their stance or the points they put forth. Even if and especially when the topic is something that can be divisive such as politics, religion, or current events. You will make a bigger impact by astutely yet assertively expressing your own opinion than you will by using ad hominems and exhibiting hostility. Insulting the other person and using profanity will only weaken your argument and do not add value to any communication — online or otherwise.
Whether you are communicating with professors or classmates in an online learning environment, communicating for business reasons, or keeping in touch with friends and family, effective online communication can be achieved by knowing your audience, remaining tactful, and clearly expressing your message.