Chat talk at work

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A large number of employees prefer sending messages on various chat channels allowed by their companies. This is definitely a fast and effective channel of communication. It saves time and endless emails and allows for minor issues to be sorted out on the spot. However, if we all followed some basic communication rules when contacting our colleagues on Slack, MS Teams or Google hangouts, we would all have a lot to gain.

Here are 6 communication rules to follow at work:

  1. Take the “do not disturb” message seriously

Even if it is one of the most annoying things to see, it is considered impolite to start a conversation despite the message being very clear. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and consider how you would feel if everybody messaged you even when your status was so explicit. Make this into a habit and you will notice that your choice of status will suddenly start to matter more to those you work with.

2. No need for an urgent reply? Send an email instead!

Remember that the person you are contacting has limited time and patience. A message that is far from urgent should be included in an email to save everybody’s precious time and energy.

3. Be polite and consider the cultural context

No matter how “behind” you are, take a minute to ask the person you are chatting to how they are. This will make the conversation flow more naturally and will function as the perfect “ice breaker”. If you work at a multinational company, you could be chatting with colleagues from different cultures. Avoid slang language, as it’s often culture-specific and could backfire, if you unknowingly say something totally different than what you mean and offend or confuse the other person. This could negatively impact communication among employees and affect the overall productivity of the team.

4. Avoid over-communicating or over-emoting

TMI stands for “too much information” and it’s a definite no-no when it comes to work chats, especially when you send group messages that may be seen by management. Keep your messages short and to the point. Personal information should not be shared and too many emojis can make communication awkward and confusing. Used wisely, emojis can help you express certain emotions, but reducing communication to a series of cartoonish drawings can be counterproductive.

5. If you can find out the answer yourself, don’t bother messaging someone else.

Before resorting to the chat, ask yourself if you can google the information you are looking for or if you can perhaps find it in the internal drive or among the internal documents. This will allow you to become more confident when doing your research and it will save a lot of time to the person you were going to contact who can dedicate their time to a more complex task,

6. Always consolidate your messages

Send a longer message that contains all the information you were planning to include. There is nothing more distracting than having to go through a chain of messages that seems to lead nowhere. Be concise and use a clear language. It’s OK to use idiomatic language as chatting is a casual form of communication, but the purpose is still to share or ask for work information in an effective way.