6 Rules for Online Chat Etiquette While Stuck at Home

For a many of us working/learning from home is a brand new world, and with it comes a new set of rules. Etiquette expert and the founder of Beaumont Etiquette Myka Meier has a few tips to make online collaborations smooth and civil. (View the original post on Fast Company)

Know your audience

  • Chat rooms are often casual and sometimes even semi-anonymous places, so it’s natural to want to relax when you’re in one. Resist the temptation. Too many quips and casual asides will send a conversation off track and into subject areas that are either time-wasting or inappropriate for the workplace. Be aware of who is in your group chat before sending a message. And remember that anyone who is added to the chat later will be able to read what you’ve written.

Don’t leave colleagues hanging

  • It’s typical for coworkers—and all humans—to want to know if their messages have been received. According to a Messenger study, 60% of people check to see if their latest chat has been read as they wait for a response. If you’re wrapped up in other work, send a quick reply acknowledging that you’ve seen the message and will fully respond later. If you find constant notifications to be distracting, let your team know you’ll be head down on another assignment, or consider “muting” the chat.

Minimize your multi-messaging

  • If your message is met with radio silence, sending a barrage of follow-ups isn’t likely to advance your cause. No one likes to return to a heap of new messages. Moreover, many people believe that they shouldn’t have to: 37% of global survey respondents considered it bad form to over-reply. Multi-messaging can also be counterproductive, as it makes it more time-consuming and potentially overwhelming for a colleague or colleagues to pick up the thread again. A better approach? Save the bulk of your thoughts for when they are ready to respond in real time.

Keep most communications concise

  • Extreme brevity is usually not a good thing—it’s cold and confusing. In general, though, keeping your communications short is a great way of maintaining efficiency and professionalism, especially when a chat or email thread involves a large group of coworkers. If you truly do have a lot to say, change the context. Suggest a one on one or voice or video call on Messenger, both of which allow you to include up to eight people.

Sign on and off with respect for the current climate

  • Depending on your relationship with the person you are addressing, an informal opening and closing may be perfectly appropriate. To keep correspondence more formal, try “Good morning/afternoon/evening” as a safe intro and end your note with “Best regards, Kind regards, or With regards.” In the current climate, “Stay well” is also an acceptable option.

Proofread messages

  • Like it or not, how you communicate shapes how people think of you—and by extension, whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. Consider that 38% surveyed agreed that poorly written replies leave a bad impression, and you start to understand why it’s worth spending a couple of extra seconds proofreading a message before clicking Send. Are you expressing yourself clearly? Have you taken a moment to check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation? If so, you’re demonstrating respect for the time and intelligence of the person you are speaking with, which is what etiquette—whether it’s online or IRL—is all about.
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