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If you ask people what they think, they'll feel encouraged to jump into discussion... and that's what you want, isn't it? Ask questions, and let folks know you're open to new points of view. When you word your ideas in from of questions, you're basically saying "Hey, I know I don't have all answers. But I'm thinking, and I'd love for you to add your insights." Then, by phrasing your questions in a specific way, you can gently 'lead' conversation. Next time you have a strong opinion to state, practice rephrasing it into a question. "What ways might we practice common courtesy in an effort to improve internet communication?" There, see how easy that was?
4. Remember real-time issue.
If you haven't noticed, real-time has some wacky effects on internet communication. Sometimes, messages look like they're written in response to something someone else said... when really, they just landed there by sheer coincidence!
Suppose someone posts a remark at 9:05 a.m. Pacific Time, as you just happen to be posting exact opposite viewpoint at 12:05 p.m. Eastern Time. When messages "land" one after other, it creates illusion that second person was arguing with first person, when actually they were not and had no knowledge of other person's post! Whoa. That's real-time at work, and it's some crazy stuff. The lesson to be learned: don't assume anything, especially on internet.
The other way that real-time can botch up works is if you're seeking advice or technical support. You post a question, some time elapses, and moderator replies. But by now, you've figured out answer and it's led you to a third complication. Now, you can either try and over-explain confusion in an effort to be polite, or say to yourself, "the heck with this" and leave discussion, which could be perceived as rude. It's quite a fretful situation. Keeping this in mind...
5. Think before you speak.
Using example from Point 4: thinking before you ask technical questions can save everybody exhaustion of over-communication. Rather than blurt out your confusion, have a look around, see what's going down. Is there an FAQ section you can refer to?
I have been known to dive right in to chat without knowing what heck is happening. As a result, I am familiar with taste of shoe leather. If you're puzzled about what's going on in a public forum discussion... can you go back and read a few old posts to get caught up? You'll save everyone a lot of wasted words if you just get with program. I learned hard way, but you don't have to.
"Think before you speak" also means proofread. Be on lookout for ambiguous content. If you're tired, stressed or feeling under weather, you may have some trouble getting your point across. Maybe it's not best time to communicate.
As a writer, I'm acutely aware of word choice. Use wrong word, and WOOOPS- somebody is getting total wrong idea. Copywriters have a chance to write multiple drafts – and in that way, get multiple chances to refine what they say in their writing. Internet posters don't have this option. Once you hit POST, you can't take back what you've written. All you can do is send MORE posts, and give folks impression that you are a babbling fool! So, for your own sake, heed my words, take your time, think about what you want to say, and PROOFREAD!
Above all, keep a positive attitude and an open mind. Welcome others' opinions while gently expressing your own. Be forgiving and patient with people and their bumbling ways. Be a good internet communicator.
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
Find out how crisp, targeted copywriting can make a world of difference for your business. Dina Giolitto is a Copywriting Consultant with ten years of experience. Visit Wordfeeder.com for free tips on branding, copywriting, marketing and more. Request a project quote by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.