social media mannersGrandma Approved Social Media Manners

This is the antidote to my double tough love posts from last week: It’s Social Media What’s There to Get and my guest blog post for Paul Roberts: Put the Social Back In Social Media.

365+ days of getting social and here’s what I know: What works in real life, works in social media.

Yes, we do things in new ways, but courtesy, polite conversation and taking the time to make guests feel included – although as old as civilization itself – are still important. Essential, even.

Below are my* Jules Rules for behaving socially on social networks. Hopefully, these all seem completely obvious because you are the type of person that does all this making nice instinctively – even online.

The Ten Commandments of How to Get Along With People*

  1. Keep skid chains on your tongue. Always say less than you think. Cultivate a low, persuasive voice. How you say it often counts more than what you say.
  2. Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what the cost.
  3. Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to or about somebody. Praise good work, regardless of who did it. If criticism is needed, offer it gently, never harshly.
  4. Be interested in others – their pursuits, their work, their homes and families. Make merry with those who rejoice, and weep with those who mourn. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard him or her as a person of importance.
  5. Don’t burden or depress those around you by dwelling on your minor aches and pains and small disappointments. Remember, everyone is carrying some kind of burden, often heavier than your own.
  6. Keep an open mind. Discuss, but don’t argue. It is the mark of a superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
  7. Let your virtues, if you have any, speak for themselves. Refuse to talk of other’s vices. Discourage gossip. It is a waste of valuable time, and can be extremely destructive.
  8. Be careful of another’s feelings. Wit and humor at another person’s expense may do more damage than you will ever know.
  9. Pay no attention to disparaging remarks. Remember, the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world, and things become twisted in the retelling. Live so that nobody will believe them.
  10. Don’t be too eager to get the credit due you. Do your best, and be patient. Forget about yourself, and let others “remember”. Success is much sweeter that way.

Now, what may surprise you, is that this list was written by the iconic Ann Landers, from the famed newspaper column of years ago. Further surprise: this list came to me as a mailed photo copy sent by my grandmother who was in her 90s at the time. Grandma Pauline was quite a lady and took educating grandchildren on proper social graces very seriously.

I found this while sorting through old papers and it hit me: What Grandma Pauline taught her rural students in the 40s about manners and her grandchildren in the 70s is as true today as it was then.

My grandmother, Ruth Crowley and Eppie Lederer would be appalled by some of the things that happen online, but would agree with my assessment: The task before us is not to get more from social media but to figure out how to give more using social media.

“The true measure of a [person] is how he treats someone [online] who can do him absolutely no good.” ~ Ann Landers

19 thoughts on “Etiquette and Manners for Social Media

  1. So what the heck is up with people, anyway? On the Web, as in life, there is a tendency toward boorish behavior, a move away from decency and toward the kind of bloviating and self-interest usually reserved for MSNBC and our friends at Fox News. There’s something about avatars that makes people act more foolish than usual.

    Great post. Way to plug your grandparents. Anyone prescient enough to give Ann Landers a forum is worthy of respect.

    1. HI Benjamin. Well, you know me: I can be a little bossy and a bit of a smarty-pants, but boorish? I’d rather give up my Twitter handle!

      Honestly, I think three things come into play when people attempt to engage online: pressure to find followers, pressure to look smart and just plain pressure.

      We keep hearing about how social is where it is at and we need to promote ourselves in order to gain trust, influence and position. Really, we all want a paycheck, some respect, praise for what we do and a place to call home. With the world the way it is, I can see the urge to commune online, safely in our PJs or locked in our office or cozy at the coffee shop where the world cannot get to us. Most people feel free to be themselves (not always a good thing) and the anonymousness or absence of physical engagement make people feel brave. But the fear, insecurity and feeling of discontent (more followers, more RTs, more, more, more) makes everyone a little hyperactive and insensitive. We simply cannot manage 1000+ real relationships online, so we are bound to fail at some point even if we are trying. Or we really are selfish and boorish and never try. Either way, Grandma would not be happy.

      So glad you had time for me today.
      ~ Jules

  2. I love this post! The ‘rules’ never change do they…especially when it comes to good manners. Too often, people ‘hide’ behind their avatars..and think it gives them licence to bully or detract. I find this most often in certain online chats. There’s always one person – who has the same point of view – who joins in and continues to hammer home his/her point no matter what the topic. And then they cry foul when challenged.

    I sure know a few tweeters out there who could benefit from Jules Rules, that’s for sure!

    1. Oh, I am so excited that you love it, Elissa. That makes me feel super good. I am not always super sweet online. If something seems wrong to me, then I add a “don’t like” to my post, but I try to be really nice to people. Everyone deserves a hello and a conversation. I am especially surprised when you don’t even get that from PR people – some who “own” the engaged-thought-leader-guru status but do not have time to be nice to people.

      To me social media is a party and my stream is my event. As the hostess, my job is to make everyone feel welcome and to work the room, chatting with friends and acquaintance. If someone wants to have a passionate discussion about a topic that I have strong feelings about, my job is to engage and let people express opinions, but not let it ruin the party.

      But you know all of this ;-).
      Thanks for being here.
      ~ Jules

  3. Perfect Jules. Too many folks are not stepping up and following the golden rules you have expressed here in not only our social media world but outside it as well.
    I am engaged in social media because most people are much nicer here than they are in the real world. Maybe its because 140 forces it!
    Anyway, I have words of wisdom from my mother in law to share, “Life is much more pleasant when you deal with mannerly people.” For sure, social media is.

    1. Thank you so much Darrel. The one piece of advice my father shared (that I remember and that I use) is, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I fail at this all the time, but he is right. 😉

      I think as people jockey for position in the influence race, they forget their manners and the every day pleasantries that your mother in law knows so much about. It’s kindness, not cliques.

      Glad you could stop by.
      ~ Jules

    1. Yes, Grandma knows best! My grandmother would have hated social media I am pretty sure, but we spoke on the phone regularly through her 90s. She lived a long wonderful life with very little technology assisting her. Gives me something to think about. Thanks for stopping by, Beverly.
      ~ Jules

  4. Thanks for sharing “The Ten Commandments of How to Get Along With People.” Also for not revealing the source until the end of the list. There was a timeless elegance to the advice and it underscores the fact that while the methods of conveyance may have changed, the message shouldn’t. Etiquette and manners are not quaint and “old school,” they are timeless; those who practice them will rise head and shoulders above the pack.

    1. Thanks, R. I started with the disclosure first, but wanted a little element of surprise. I wish I had written it, but for it to have come from Ann Landers, not one of our so-called social-media-thought-leader-gurus, is priceless.

      My greatest accomplishment in life is that people tell me that my children are very well mannered. What have we, if not for manners?

      Thanks for visiting.

  5. We do miss Grandma Pauline! Old school wisdom for new technology. It’s becoming clear that Social Media is a lot like formal dating from an earlier time. Go slow. Be patient. Your Social Media relationships may seem like they are further along than they really are. Be careful you don’t move too quickly. That contact (date) you really want just might drop you.

  6. Jules – great post and great reminder on rules/commandments to live by when communicating, especially socially. This has been bothering me for some time, that for whatever reason, there are those that feel extending their boorish and inappropriate behavior via social media channels is just fine. Just as important as first impressions, leaving negative ones on the Internet and forums for all to see, can be equally lasting. A great list for all of us to post and encourage.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    -Don J.

    1. Thanks Don. It is a fine line between being yourself/being passionate and being a jerk. Some people do not see that fine line and cross it without noticing. I like a stimulating debate, but it is hard to have that with a group of strangers and not have a least one person fly off the handle. I learned that the hard way, so I tip-toe around most places now. It is just not worth it to open the door to those types. Although, I can honestly say, it has only happened once that I can remember, so the odds are pretty low.

      What does happen regularly are #7 and #10 – over-exuberant self-promotion. Lots of Gurus and Mavens out there!

      Thanks for stopping by.
      ~ Jules

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