10 rules of instant messaging at work

Business chat is an important part of any workplace. It’s different from your casual instant messaging with friends so you have to take it seriously and responsibly. After all, your co-workers’ and managers’ opinions of you depend on how you communicate with them.

Did you ever feel like you don’t know how to answer when your boss is messaging you?

Should you use emojis?

What’s the best way to make a good impression on others using a corporate chat room?

Here are the 10 rules that can help you answer these questions.

Rule 1: use it only during work hours

Life isn’t all about work. Everybody must have time to themselves. Don’t send messages to people after your workday is over. Firstly, because there’s a good chance they won’t respond. Secondly, you risk annoying your co-workers and coming across as an extremely disagreeable person.

Here’s another tip: silence your phone when you go to bed. This way you’ll make sure nobody will wake you up in the middle of the night with work-related questions.

Rule 2: be concise and get straight to the point

If there’s something you want to ask about, do just that. There’s no need to send “Good morning!” to the chat room and wait for them to respond. It’s nothing but a waste of time. Think of a short message that perfectly describes your issue or question. Don’t spam short phrases! This is distracting and lowers your chances to get a proper answer.

Rule 3: no voice messages

Multiple voice messages stacking up in a corporate chat room are probably one of the most irritating things. Perhaps it would be better to write a longer message. It wouldn’t hurt to think of your co-workers. They will spend less time reading a single typed message than trying to figure out what all those voice messages are about.

If it’s something urgent, it would be better to talk over the phone or in person.

Rule 4: remember why you started a conversation in the first place

It’s a corporate chat room, so keep it to the point. No one will be happy to answer a question like “Do you think I should adopt a dog?” or “Guess what I dreamt about last night?”

Create another chat room for casual communication if you have to. But remember that common business etiquette rules will apply to it as well.

Rule 5: don’t spam emojis and stickers

Chances are your management won’t be against emojis but it’s important not to go overboard with them. Stickers are a bit different. Don’t forget to view all the stickers available and make sure that those you use are appropriate.

In fact, the smartest thing to do right after they add you to the chat room is to scroll up and down and see how your co-workers normally communicate. Another option is to ask them if they have any special corporate chat rules one must follow.

Rule 6: your profile picture must be as simple as possible

Normally, chat room messages are not as formal as emails. However, making sure that your profile pictures are appropriate still won’t hurt. Something too funny, too dramatic, or too personal might not cut it.

Rule 7: check your grammar and spelling

People don’t often think too much about spelling and proper grammar when they talk to someone via text messages or instant messengers. And yet when you use a corporate chat room, it’s worth checking your messages before you send them. This way you’ll at least make sure your auto-correct won’t embarrass you.

Rule 8: avoid using slang words and phrases

It’s okay to use slang when all of your co-workers and managers are fairly young people. It’s still a good idea not to go overboard with abbreviations, though. Some people might have a hard time understanding you.

However, it’s different when you have to communicate with people of different age groups. In this case, it would be best to avoid slang altogether. Older people might frown upon it and your managers won’t be amused if they see an “okay, boomer” coming from you. So watch what you say and how you say it.

Rule 9: don’t ignore any messages when they address you

This is another thing that can be incredibly annoying: messaging someone and waiting for a response for hours. Don’t be that guy. If you are too busy to answer a message, just let them know. Say you can’t answer at the moment but will respond as soon as you can. Change your status to “unavailable” or “do not disturb”, or anything similar if you have to.

Rule 10: use the Reply option

When there are too many messages in the corporate chat, it might get a little confusing. So use the Reply button to keep the context.

When it comes to the corporate chat rules, there’s nothing complicated. Make it clear and concise, get to the business, and don’t go overboard with emojis. And as always, the “do as you would be done by” rule applies here as well.

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