The origin of the old expression “Mind your ‘P’s and Q’s'” cannot be traced precisely, but it’s generally agreed upon that the phrase originated from advice to mind your manners, including using “please” and “thank-you” in interactions.
Take a moment and consider the directions that you’ve given and heard throughout your life regarding politeness and good manners:
“Say please and thank you.”
“Say ‘excuse me’ when you need to get attention right away.”
As you grow, your manners and social abilities (hopefully) evolve with you, enabling you to communicate positively and set an example for younger generations to follow.
Perhaps one of my favorite quotes about what it means to have good manners comes from Kahlil Gibran, who said, “The real test of good manners is to be able to put up with bad manners pleasantly.”
As technology has grown in this digital age, the scope of what good manners mean and how to teach them MUST include online manners.
Take a moment and think about how young you were when you first used technology. Now consider the age at which your children or younger generations were introduced to technology. I personally know that my daughter stunned me when at the age of three, she casually swiped across my iPhone to open it up. I had no idea how she even knew to do that!
The bottom line…teaching manners must include teaching online manners.
And learning online manners isn’t just for children-they are critical for adults, businesses and brands as well.
The digital era has had an effect on our language, as well. The word “netiquette” was born from “etiquette” and is frequently used when discussing online manners. I like the term so much that I used it in the title of my book, Netiquette: Modern Manners For A Modern World: The Ultimate Guide To Online Etiquette.
In my book I discuss the evolution of technology and best practices for technology etiquette and manners on social media platforms and messaging, email and branding. I wrote it for both individuals and professionals as they navigate this digital age.
Here are a few of my favorite pieces of advice for online manners-you probably won’t be surprised to find that they are very similar to what you learned about good manners as you were growing up:
1.) Treat others as you’d like to be treated. It’s incredibly easy to respond to someone that you don’t know online with bad manners or poor treatment. Don’t do it. Picture yourself speaking to that person: Compose your words as you’d say your response. You can disagree without being rude.
2.) Think before speaking. In modern times, “speaking” means “posting”, but you understand the gist. Take a few minutes to consider that thanks to screen shots, what you post can remain forever on the internet, even if you delete it.
3.) Be kind. No matter what, whether face-to-face or interacting digitally, kindness is important.
There’s no doubt about it…as they always were, times, they are a changin’.
Make sure that you’re adapting with the ever-evolving digital society around you by understanding the basic building blocks of it. Start with the basics…like minding your online manners.