Communication Etiquette and Manners

Avoid Communication Insults—Body Blows, No-Shows, Email Bombs, and Cyber-Punks

If you’ve been a victim of these communication insults, then you know a slap upside the head can feel softer than these blows to the heart. Offenders will likely not improve their chances of making friends, motivating change, or moving up the food chain.

Still, some people fail to recognize the communication mayhem they create by habits that leave coworkers slighted, insulted, or vexed. So let me be more specific:


These socialites insult with what they consider clever sarcasm or gotchas. They intend to showcase their wit and wisdom juxtaposed next to your stupidity or silliness. They usually leave a trail of insults as they swim from social media stream to stream and muddy the water.

An example on a recent blog post by a colleague: Darren posted this question on Facebook: “What percent of social media posts that you read offer ‘high value’ versus those that are ‘just okay’ versus those are ‘trivial and a waste of time’? The Cyber-Punk responded, “You mean trivial and a waste of time like this one?”

Another example from the same Cyber-Punk: Michelle posted this on her Facebook page: “Does anyone have suggestions for getting rid of chronic hoarseness? I’ve tried many medications and several home remedies, but nothing has helped. I need to speak to a large audience this afternoon.” Several people offered solutions that had worked for them with chronic throat conditions. The Cyber-Punk offered this response: “Have you heard of doctors?”

Sarcasm has become his social trademark. 


People can communicate their distrust, their disregard, or their dislike simply by failing to show up. That is, they can refuse to communicate with you at all—literally or metaphorically. For example, you email them, but they fail to respond. Or they can respond but refuse to answer a specific question. Or they literally refuse to show up to your meeting, communicating clearly that they don’t value what you’re discussing or presenting. 

Email Bombs

Writing an email while you’re emotionally upset works well. Just don’t hit “send.” Writing through your upset can serve as great therapy. But allow cool-off time. Or let an objective third-party read your message and give feedback on tone and clarity.

Will the email accomplish your ultimate purpose? If insulted, will the reader be motivated to help you accomplish your goal? Or, will you be starting an email battle that comes to no good end? Granted, you may feel better after telling the other person how you feel. But will the recipient feel inclined to take the action you intend?

When it comes to email bombs, drafting may help you vent—just don’t hit “Send” and detonate the bomb.


Body-blows land in total silence. An eye roll. A smirk. A raised eyebrow. A shrug. A palms up, “What’s that?” weird expression. The message can be delivered in body language without uttering a word. Idea done, over, terminado.


While few people set out to offend others intentionally, many realize—often, after the fact—that they’ve damaged relationships severely by these insults. Keep in mind that it’s far easier to avoid offense than repair the damage.

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