Communicating online : three ways to improve your skills

Learn three important ways to build your online communication skills: be kind, know your facts and challenge yourself. Find out more with our Young Professional training!

Being able to communicate in lots of ways is important, especially when we will go through life meeting and working with lots of different people. We are communicating more online than ever before and all these activities are helping to build our skills as well as our interests and friendship groups.

We all have different styles and ways we like to connect but being able to communicate online is especially important right now. We have come up with these three ways to improve your communication skills online right now:

Be kind

#BeKind isn’t just a hashtag. Words are very powerful things and they can hurt people. When written online they are a permanent record there for everyone to see how you have behaved. This goes for commenting on people’s social media pictures, videos and interacting online with people you know and those you don’t.

Before you post think of these things:

#1 The face test

Would you say this if the person was standing in front of you right now? If you wouldn’t, why would you post this online as a permanent reminder of these words? Just because you can’t see them you shouldn’t forget there is a real person behind that picture, video or article.

#2 The parent test

If your parents/carer or a future employer were to see those comments, would you feel proud of them? Think about this before you post, and if you aren’t sure write what you think you should say then come back to it in an hour or so and see. Social media has a way of making us feel we have to reply instantly. You really don’t have to – take your time and reply with what you really need to say.

#3 Check your feelings

When you are upset, emotional and angry, everything you are writing and responding to right now is likely not to be your best self. Sleep on those feelings or come back when things have calmed down. Try not to push send before you have calmed down. This can save friendships, relationships and social media battles.

Know your facts

There are a lot of news stories, expert extracts and ‘true life’ pictures circulating across social media at the moment. In times of uncertainty more stories will circulate and people unknowingly share the wrong information.  Bad news always spreads a lot faster than good news. There are also some people out there who will share stories knowing they are wrong, just to create drama and to build up likes, follows and shares.

#1 What is it?

We have all seen grainy pictures or short snippets of video tapes – if it isn’t clear what is going on or it is that just one shot or moment being taken from something much longer, be aware that there might be more to the story.  It is also common at the moment for what appears to be medical, expert advice to be shared in voice clips or even written on a notes page of a phone with a screenshot. It is rare that these are how medical advice and knowledge is shared and these notes in particular can cause panic.

#2 Who wrote it?

Who is saying and sharing this story? Has this been shared with one of the news outlets like BBC News, ITV News, Sky News, Buzzfeed or Channel 4? If no one else is talking about it and you can not find at least one trusted website talking about it then it might not be true. Lots of stories can be spread on social media and if you are just reading headlines without finding out more it is likely you will worry yourself with information that might not be the real deal.

Challenge yourself

Improve your online communication skills by challenging yourself to read one new thing a week. You can start off by clicking on a new tab on whichever website or app you normally go to for news. How about clicking the Politics or world tab and reading one of those stories, or perhaps you never read the sports tab – give that a go?

Reading a broad range of things will help you build your knowledge and get you used to the different ways people write to share stories. Politics articles are written differently to entertainment, think about what you are reading and how it is written – is there anything you can learn about how you communicate different things to people?

We have produced information about staying safe online before but we want to reiterate at this time where more people are online to keep safe. We are delighted to see how communities are coming together but remember to never share personal details about you or your family, never engage with people you do not know and never send pictures to anyone. Also, always make sure that your parents or carers know who you are talking to.

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