Online etiquette in the Filipino milieu

Published August 29, 2021, 12:20 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


How often have you entered a chat room (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, or Google Meet), and ended up spending a good hour being introduced to people, chatting with them, discussing some presentation or deck with them, saying goodbyes and that you’re looking forward to meeting them again – and you haven’t the foggiest idea what they look like? You could walk right by them later that day, or share a queue at the supermarket, but you wouldn’t know any better!

Think about it, and that’s a true, commonplace situation that can be chalked up to the habits we’ve grown accustomed to, after more than a year of online chat room experiences. It’s now become so ingrained in our online behavior that it may literally take a ‘movement’ to make us budge from our daily excuses of “my WiFi signal is weak,” when at times, the truth may have more to do with laziness and/or a slovenly appearance. Whatever the excuses, it’s evident that the rule book on online etiquette has been thrown out the window, or was just never made clear to us.

That’s why I’m happy that Issa Litton and her 1Lit agency has expanded their module of Online Impact – which has to do with being a better and more effective online communicator; with a new module on Online Etiquette. With her Online Etiquette, it’s all about setting a behavioral standard when one is online. It’s about reminding people that if the pre-pandemic model was to conduct physical visits and meetings; there are certain aspects of the behavior we’d set for ourselves then, that should still form the framework of how we conduct ourselves now that we’re online.

From our weekly online meetings; how many videos are on?

Etiquette, when online, still counts, as it reflects on our professionalism, our showing respect to the others engaged with us in the chat room, and ultimately impacts on the kind of impression we make – which could be a key to how successful we are via these online meetings. It’s easier to be swayed by the crowd, copy what others have been doing as a default setting, and that’s why I found this module of Issa’s to be so timely, with a whole load of takeaway’s that could help us set a new standard, and be the example.

What I loved seeing was that her Online Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts module goes extensively further than what I saw written in the USA by TED regarding online public speaking. In that TED article, they spoke of three general things that most people were doing wrong; and I don’t mind offering them up now, as they’re just the tip of the iceberg of what Issa has compiled as her observations and teachings in her own module.

The caveat here is that there really is no absolute right or wrong. It’s about putting your best foot forward. Do read on, and see if you’re guilty of these very common online etiquette-related mistakes:

Looking at audience, and not at camera – I’m so guilty of this as I’m constantly looking at the boxes to gauge reactions to what’s being said during a meeting. And yet, at the very least, when you’re the one speaking, you should look straight at the little dot of a camera that’s on the top of your device. That’s to look engaged, and meeting people eye to eye. Otherwise, if constantly looking at the others and their boxes, it’ll look like you’re looking down all the time. Try to imagine what that’s like when you’re talking to a person in real space and time and they’re just looking at your belly button or the ground!

Issa Litton of 1Lit Corp., who’s added an Online Etiquette module to her offerings.

Just reading or winging it, not really prepared – this is the one that pertains to when you are presenting or talking, and you’re not prepared or are reading. Unless you’ve situated your material right beside the camera like a teleprompter, you’re always looking down, and not engaging with your audience. This obviously means you have to know what you’re presenting, have rehearsed and practiced, so that it’ll just be fleeting looks to your material as prompts.

Letting everyone leave videos off – I look back to my opening paragraph today to stress how important this is. I acknowledge that if you’re not part of the actual conversation or just attending, it’s fine to keep video off. But if being introduced, and/or at the start of the session, and when you all say goodbye, it’s only proper that you turn videos on. Fine, it can be momentary; but I’m just saying that keeping it off all the time, even if with your static photo showing, is like meeting someone in person wearing a full face mask, or with a 9×12 photograph of your headshot taped to your face. That’s really the equivalent, if you think about it.

If you had to admit you’re doing any of the above, then perhaps it’s time to sign up for Issa’s module. She’s open to doing group webinars, so invest in your people, your own frontliners, and make sure they’re representing your company in the best way possible. And if you’re the head of your company, then make sure you’re setting the right example – it often starts from the top, as they take the cues from you.

Head to 1Lit Corp on FB and @1LitCorp on IG, to message Issa, and get details of her Online Etiquette course, or inquire at [email protected]. Help set the standard for our online world.