Try a Little Courtesy with Your Collaboration

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One of the things getting lost in the Web 2.0 shuffle is common courtesy. While this was a problem in the Web 1.0 world as well, collaboration tools such as instant messaging make it as easy to irritate a co-worker as to inform him.


We blogged about this previously when research firm the Leading Edge Forum produced a report on the trend -- complete with tips on how to use some of the newest tools, include calendaring, Web conferencing and messaging.


Now The Finishing Academy, a British firm that offers "traditional values for the modern world," according to its Web site, has partnered with Microsoft to create a Business and Communications Etiquette Guide, reports silicon.com.


The Finishing Academy's managing director says while etiquette is evolving right along with technology, many of the old guidelines still remain -- you know, like not telling offensive jokes.


We'd like to think most folks don't need to be reminded of what boils down to the Golden Rule -- but then again, we can be pretty naive, considering the brouhaha triggered earlier this year when rude public comments about blogger Kathy Sierra morphed into death threats.


It obviously never hurts to remind folks of hints that intuitively make sense but are easily forgotten during a busy work day, like using IM for simple and easily handled requests, e-mail for more complex issues and the phone or face-to-face meetings for the most sensitive subjects.


Few things are more sensitive than firing someone, but Radio Shack used e-mail to let 400 employees know they'd be losing their job. A Washington Post columnist reports that a body-piercing studio defended its decision to dismiss a worker via IM this way: "We are a youth business, and our staff are all part of the youth culture that uses [text] messaging as a major means of communication."


Fair enough, but not very nice. As the Finishing Academy's managing director puts it: Business communications should be about "respecting the people you're dealing with."