Thursday, May 9, 2013

What constitutes 'professional' and 'personal' in digital communication?

Many of us have both a professional digital profile and a personal one.  Perhaps you use Twitter for professional networking and Facebook for family and friends.  Some of your digital life might be more blurry - with a Pinterest account where you do a bit of both.  Making the decision on which platforms to use for what is a discretionary skill in itself - usually followed by a series of decisions where all the options are shades of grey.

Let's say you have made a decision not to have your boss as a friend on Facebook.  In most cases this is an easy one.  However, what about that colleague you have become friendly with at work?  When she asks you to become her friend on Facebook - what is your response?  If she has high privacy settings you won't be able to tell who else SHE is friends with - meaning some of your content could end up in places you are unsure of. If SHE is friends with the boss/suppliers/clients then you could easily become compromised professionally - from actions you take in your personal life.  The decision is not so little is it?

Image from Free Digital Photos
Let's try another example.  You've been emailing back and forth with a client for nearly two years now.  You have never met.  In the past few months the emails have included questions (and answers) around friendly questions like "How was your weekend?" or "What do you have planned for Friday night"?  You feel like you have a slightly personal relationship with your correspondent after so many months emailing back and forth.  You share details of your personal life - as do they.  It is reciprocal and not unlike meeting up with people in professional settings where it becomes friendly, but not necessarily become friends. How do you assess how any particular email might look in isolation to your boss? The lines between personal and professional are easily blurred in person - but even more so online.

There are no quick and fast rules on line.  Despite common agreements founded in organisations which we might call netiquette or strict policy guidelines - we are often functioning out there with little or no idea of where the personal vs professional boundary is .We can consider the following though.  That everything you type is permanent ... and ... everything you type is potentially public.  Consider those two facts before you hit send.  That's about as simple as the advice on this can be!
dreamhost coupons