Rules for online etiquette


Etiquette, which is commonly used in the world of bricks and mortar is not usually seen or heard of in our digital environment. However, notwithstanding this, it is something that is part of us, because it defines the proper way to behave in any given situation both online and offline.

Therefore, as freelancers or clients, we should be mindful of the way we engage others on different platforms such as the clarification board, private message exchanges, etc. Doing this will ensure that we get the best out of our online engagements with others.

Okay having said this, here are five etiquette rules to guide us when engaging clients, freelancers and even others online. They include:

Being respectful is mandatory. Although it may be easy to lose sight of this when communicating online with someone you hardly know or have never met, engaging others respectfully is important. Before you type in those words, just consider how you would feel had you received the same words.

More so, remember that the person at the other end is real and one with feelings just like you or any other human being on the face of this planet. Therefore, always type with caution having this at the back of your mind.

Respect - rules for online etiquette

Yes, your spelling and grammar also matter. Be careful with the way you write. Sending out messages like “luv ur writing” for example may be appropriate when communicating with friends, however, this is not suitable for communicating with freelancers or clients.

Consequently, you should endeavour to keep your writing style at a professional level and avoid communicating in a way that may be misunderstood or misrepresented. An example could be making use of words that sound angry or bitter, even when this is meant to be a joke.

Don’t forget that the person receiving your words at the other end will not be able to hear or feel the tone of your voice. Play safe rather than be sorry afterward.

Mind what you share. Providing details that may jeopardise your safety both online and otherwise is not in your best interests. This includes those sent as private messages as well. Never live under the illusion that private communication between you and another person will forever remain private.

Therefore, you should never share personal information that you don’t want everyone to know with a random stranger (freelancer or client), as this might adversely affect you sometime in the future. However, this does not include submitting email address or similar details to PeoplePerHour.

be careful what you share - online etiquette

Remember you are on a mission. This fourth point might sound funny. Nevertheless, it is true because each time you type those words, you are on a mission to communicate something to another individual. So if you are not happy about anything someone said to you online, responding immediately may not be the best time to communicate back.

Rather, take some time out to reflect on this and see whether you are in the right state of mind to respond professionally and in line with the other three points earlier stated.

Be ready to forgive. Forgiveness is part of life and as the Bible says, let us forgive others as we want them to forgive us.

Alright now that you know these rules, there will be others who don’t know them and so cannot practice them. This is why you should be prepared to forgive them when they slip.

More so, you should be willing to do this since you were probably once ignorant of these rules like them.

About the Author:

Rotimi - basic rules for online etiquetteI am a versatile freelance writer and I have been providing online content for the last six years and still counting. My areas of interest include small business, personal finance, entrepreneurship, human resources, leadership and finance. Also, I have written content on most of these themes including content relating to my Christian faith.

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  • Scott A

    Great article!

    I like the part about being ready to forgive. I’ve worked with a client who was on a really tight deadline. She was given the task of finding someone to complete a web design project that also had several graphics needed on it. I was to design the site and another freelancer she hired was to provide some of the graphics. We got close to the deadline and I was still awaiting materials from her/her other freelancer. She was upset and I ended up getting quite a rude message from her when it wasn’t my fault. There was part of me that wanted to respond in kind back, but I decided to leave it for a little time. After about 30 minutes I received another email from her apologising.

    I am assuming my client just had an ear-load from her boss and I was the one who caught the brunt of it. I could of made a deal of how she spoke to me, but thinking about it she wasn’t really mad at me. She was more so angry the position she found herself in. After she apologised I was left with the choice of either getting making a deal of something, or accepting the apology.

    I chose the latter and I still work with her to this day. Forgiveness and empathy pays off.

  • Rotimi Omoniyi

    Thanks Scott for your comment. More so, for providing an example of how being ready to forgive worked out in your own situation. Once again many thanks.


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