ON­LINE ETI­QUETTE

Think be­fore you send.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S that awk­ward mo­ment . . . when you hit send and re­alise you sent the email to the wrong per­son. Or you sent the email to the right per­son and then re­alised it was a ter­ri­ble idea.

Or you should have stepped away from the com­puter and cooled down. Or you should have said it in per­son, not on­line.

We have all had these mo­ments and don’t they make you die a lit­tle inside?

We all know that sud­den rush of blood to the face, that rac­ing pulse, those sweaty palms, and the sud­den churn­ing of the stomach when we re­alise what we’ve writ­ten hastily and the po­ten­tial reper­cus­sions of the act.

Yes, it’s a fa­mil­iar and hor­ri­fy­ing sit­u­a­tion, but do we ever learn?

One high- pro­file friend of mine won’t put much in writ­ing on Face­book, Twit­ter, email or SMS.

While dis­arm­ingly open in per­son, he’s all busi­ness via email and so­cial me­dia.

I had thought this strange and rigid, per­haps even para­noid at first, but af­ter a few mis­fires via Twit­ter, Face­book and even email, I see the wis­dom in his ways.

Noth­ing is ever re­ally deleted once pub­lished. One lit­tle click of the ‘‘ send’’ but­ton can seem flip­pant, but it is a long- term com­mit­ment. No email mes­sage, Face­book mes­sage or SMS text is ever re­ally deleted per­ma­nently. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write them some­times; writ­ing an emo­tive or an­gry email is ther­apy in it­self.

Write it, edit it, let it all out . . . and then delete it. Don’t send it.

DON’T HIT SEND WHEN:

• You are hav­ing sen­si­tive con­ver­sa­tions via email. Sen­si­tive and emo­tion­ally charged con­ver­sa­tions have no place in an email. If you need to ex­press dis­ap­point­ment, fire an em­ployee or apol­o­gise, do it in per­son, face- to- face, or at least by phone.

• Us­ing ‘‘ re­ply all’’. When you are in­cluded in a group email and you write a pri­vate re­ply, only to ac­ci­den­tally hit ‘‘ re­ply all’’ in­stead of ‘‘ re­ply’’, it’s not only em­bar­rass­ing for you, but in­con­ve­nient for all of the other re­cip­i­ents to be in­cluded.

• You wouldn’t say it in pub­lic. When you write a scathing email, even if you only send it to one per­son, it is in­deli­ble. It’s pub­lic as soon as you send it; it could go any­where, to any­body. It could be for­warded, screen- cap­tured, printed out. So if you’re in­clud­ing some­thing nasty about your col­league or em­ployer, think again. Never as­sume an email will stop where it’s sent.

• You are fum­ing. Draft an email, re­sponse, or com­plaint by all means, but sleep on it. Let it mull overnight, talk it out with a trusted friend, and let your emo­tions set­tle, be­fore you re- read it and eval­u­ate the po­ten­tial reper­cus­sions. Keep in mind that the best re­sult might come from not email­ing at all, but talk­ing it out in per­son.

Psy­chol­o­gist and New York Times colum­nist Daniel Gole­man’s novel Emo­tional In­tel­li­gence ad­vises ‘‘ a key abil­ity in im­pulse con­trol is know­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween feel­ings and ac­tions and learn­ing to make bet­ter emo­tional de­ci­sions by first con­trol­ling the im­pulse to act, then iden­ti­fy­ing al­ter­na­tive ac­tions and their con­se­quences be­fore act­ing’’. You may be a fast typ­ist but how quick can you think? The fact is we live in an age where doc­u­men­ta­tion is per­ma­nent, even when deleted. It’s not para­noia to be more con­sid­er­ate in your writ­ten deal­ings, but a les­son in ci­vil­ity.

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