7 min read
December 26, 2016
Last updated: October 9, 2019
Instant messaging is an excellent way to efficiently communicate at work and easily streamline every single work process, which is why it has gained a lot of popularity in the business world. What’s more, instant messaging is great for collaboration within a company, since you can send messages in real-time in a group chat and, thus, efficiently and effectively work together on a project with as many people as you need. Instant messaging improves workplace productivity and can provide a company with a number of other benefits.
No matter how popular instant messaging is, there are still common etiquette mistakes which lead to relationship deterioration with colleagues, misunderstanding and a loss of time. We prepared basic rules to be followed when it comes to instant messaging and group chat in a professional environment, so take a look at what those are.
1. Make Sure Your Screen Name and Avatar Are Suitable for Work
Your friends may think you have a cool screen name and a hilarious avatar, but your co-workers may not share the same opinion. They may find it unprofessional or offensive and may even form a completely wrong image of you.
Therefore, make sure your screen name and avatar are professional and suitable for the work environment. Why not use your full name and your CV photo, for instance? It will certainly do the job. You can leave your superhero screen name and your funny GIF for your other user account that will be only for personal use.
2. Start Every Conversation with a Greeting
While using IM and group chat at work may remind you of chatting with your friends, it’s vital to know the difference and act accordingly. Don’t start a conversation by immediately addressing the issue without introducing yourself first (if you’re chatting with someone for the first time), because you may come off as rude and completely unprofessional. Introduce yourself by saying, for instance: “Hello/Hi. This is Carrie Smith from the IT department”. After greeting the person on the other end of the screen, you should apologize for the interruption and ask if it is a good time to talk about a certain matter. Also, even if you’re chatting with some co-workers regularly, never start a conversation without a proper “hello”.
3. Be Clear and Concise
Instant messaging is used for short messages, so make sure you keep them brief – anything else can be discussed via email or on the phone. Always be clear, specific and concise and stay on point, especially when it comes to group chats, as there are more people involved and you shouldn’t take over an entire conversation (unless you’re the boss, of course, and you need to brief your team on some pressing matter that cannot wait for you to set up a meeting). If something needs to be thoroughly discussed and requires a bit more time, opt for sending an email or ask when the best time to meet and talk about the matter in question would be.
4. Don’t Use IM When You’re Upset
If you chat with your co-workers while you’re angry or upset, your messages may get misinterpreted or you may say something inappropriate that you will instantly regret. That is why it is crucial to stop for a moment and cool off before you send an angry message.
Therefore, don’t send anything you wouldn’t say out loud and you won’t risk your relationships with co-workers or risk your messages being passed around and ruining your image. Also, keep your Caps Lock off at all times, because turning it on will give off the impression of you shouting, and you certainly don’t want that in your workplace.
5. Be Patient While Waiting for a Response
You need to give people time to respond to your messages, because they may not be able to answer immediately. Everyone, including you, is there to work so, if they are not slackers, they may not respond instantly every single time. Therefore, be patient and wait for your response, instead of sending a ton of additional messages in order to get someone’s attention – it’s rude and annoying, not to mention utterly unprofessional.
6. Respect Status Availability Settings
If someone you want to IM has a “busy” or “away” status, respect that and wait for the right time to send your message. If they are unavailable, they may be in a meeting or on the phone, or simply handling some other work-related tasks, which means that you should not interrupt them. Respect their time and don’t disrupt their work, because you may negatively affect their productivity.
7. Always Be Polite
Politeness is extremely valuable in every workplace, so make sure you always respect this rule. Always be polite when sending one-on-one and group messages in a professional environment, because you will show that you are a professional. You simply cannot be rude at work, not to mention you should never judge anyone or accuse them of not doing something right via chat.
8. Make Sure You Use Proper Grammar
When you’re chatting with your friends, you may not pay close attention to grammar and spelling, let alone check for any mistakes before sending your IMs. However, in professional environment, using proper grammar is of great importance and you should always double check every single message before sending it to any co-worker or your boss.
Also, don’t use abbreviations or slang and it goes without saying that you should keep emoticons at bay because, after all, you are chatting with the people you work with, not chatting or texting with your friends.
These are the basic etiquette rules for instant messaging and group chat in professional environment that you should seriously take into account. Make sure you follow them at all times, because they will help you paint the image of a professional who is focused on work and wants to get things done more efficiently and effectively.