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Home : Community : Communities : E-ettiquette

Electronic Etiquette and Helpful Hints

Welcome to the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International’s online communities. To ensure this is a positive experience for all, please read these helpful hints for online communicators.

Shared Language for Communication

The honor society's goal is to be internationally inclusive in all honor society materials and correspondence. Members should strive to be cognizant of those for whom English is a second language.

Here are some general guidelines for international writing:

• Speak and write in simple, straight-forward language.

• Avoid all of the following:

  • Idioms (It’s raining cats and dogs.)
  • Slang (That’s cool.)
  • Euphemisms (My car has seen better days.)
  • Sports terminology (When in doubt, drop back and punt.)
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms (We need a reservation ASAP.)
  • Jargon (My PC takes a CD-ROM program.)

• Avoid using contractions and other “American” words such as:

  • Gonna
  • Wanna
  • Comin’
  • Watcha
  • Ya instead of you
  • ‘Em instead of them

• U.S. “politically correct” language can be misunderstood or offensive, such as referring to someone as a “chair” instead of a “chairman.”

• Avoid positional language, such as “overseas” and “domestic.”

E-Etiquette – A few simple rules

• Communicate clearly and politely

• Be brief

• Keep to the topic

• Do not scream – Please do not write in all capital letters as it is much harder to read.

• Use the subject line

• Lurk before you post – It is polite to learn about an ongoing discussion by reading the previous messages before you post.

Avoid Online Misunderstandings –
adapted from article by Mihaela Moussou and Nancy

White, 2004

Five attributes of online communication to take into consideration:

1) Lack of physical, nonverbal communication cues that we rely on in face-to-face conversation

2) Potential impersonality of the medium - Social norms are less clear and more open to individual interpretation.

3) Asynchronicity affects the way we experience and feel about messages - When you have time to think about your response, you may be more thoughtful or you may let issues build up and get blown out of proportion.

4) Public vs. private spaces and perceptions - People have different tolerances of what they think should be "public" or "private."

5) Limitations of writing and reading - Our inattention to detail in writing and our speed reading through topics can lead to misinterpretations. Be thorough. Be explicit.

Four Tips to Avoid Online Misunderstandings

1) Making "I" statements, not "You" statements

Use these statements instead of telling the other person what you would like them to do or not do. "I would be more comfortable if you first stated your personal goals about the plan." vs. "You didn't state your agenda and confused the rest of us."

2) Checking assumptions

Assumptions are our interpretations of what we hear or read. They are the result of our trying to fill in information that is missing. Checking assumptions is very important. Ask. 'In reading your statement, I am assuming that... Is that so?''

3) Actively "listening"/Reading

Building rapport with another depends on the quality of our attention during the act of communicating. Communication occurs at different levels. For messages to be accurately received every level needs to be acknowledged and understood.

4) Acknowledging perspectives

People's perceptions of reality can be very different and individualistic. We need to recognize that the other person believes as strongly as we do about the history of the events even when our views of what may have happened are quite different. These different personal perspectives are equally valid. We need to start by respecting the other person's perspective, discuss our views and come to a useful agreement.

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