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Guidance on Electronic Media Etiquette 2019/20

Electronic Media Bullying and Harassment includes: instant messaging, email, text and online social networking sites.

Everyone is accountable for the electronic media they personally send.

Electronic media is a very powerful tool and the impact of words or even where recipients are “placed‟ in a group can unintentionally hurt, offend or cause misunderstanding.

Best use of electronic media will seek to avoid;

  • Flaming (using capitals to emphasise statements or words or to demonstrate excessively punitive attitudes).
  • Praising some members of a team and excluding others.
  • Copying in others to critical messages that do not relate to their work remit.
  • Forcing staff to give their permission on their electronic media account allowing intensive monitoring of all electronic media traffic
  • Ordering recipients in terms of popularity rather than alphabetically.
  • Using electronic media to hide behind when being critical or expressing anger rather than having a proper 1-2-1 conversation.
  • Sending electronic medias that are tersely worded or that make criticisms when there has been insufficient investigation of the facts.

This may lead to;

  • Causing offence to staff, students or members of the public.
  • Unwittingly breaking discrimination laws.
  • Being subject to a complaint of harassment or bullying.
  • Portraying a negative image of the University.
  • Misrepresentation and barriers to effective communication.

Useful tips when communicating by electronic media

  • Electronic media communication should follow the same rules of courtesy that would be expected in written communication. Consider starting the communication with a friendly salutation such as “Hi” or “Good morning” and end on a positive note such as “Best wishes” “Kind Regards” “I look forward to hearing from you” etc.
  • Avoid putting words in primary colours, CAPITAL letters, bold, underlined or with lots of exclamation marks!!! (this however could also be used to demonstrate importance) as this is the electronic media equivalent of shouting.
  • Avoid discriminatory language and words relating to individual personal characteristics i.e. sex, race, religion, disability.
  • Do not send electronic media communication to other people who do not need to know.
  • Avoid sending electronic media communication when you are angry or upset, take time to reflect.
  • Ensure that your personal views communicated on electronic media are noted as personal and not those of the University.
  • Read electronic media carefully before you send it. If in doubt ask a colleague to proof read. It may be a good idea to draft electronic media communication and then come back to it later.
  • Think carefully about how to reply to electronic media communication.
  • Avoid an escalating electronic media debate, electronic media can often seem much worse than the sender intended.
  • Do not use electronic media to score points or embarrass people.
  • Have you checked your facts? It can be embarrassing to send an electronic media without checking the facts.
  • Remember that an electronic media is a permanent written record of what you have said as soon as you hit the “Send‟ button, it may be archived, forwarded by others or copied by others.
  • Generally, don’t send an electronic media that you wouldn’t like to receive, or that you would not like to be confronted with later.