• Chat etiquette is important for your image at work
  • Know when and how to use chats versus email and live convos
  • Keep your chats clear, simple and friendly for best results
You’ve seen some horrifying group messaging chats. You know the kind.

It’s like seeing a huge fucking train wreck happening right in front of your eyes.

It’s that one ambiguous chat message that gets misinterpreted and triggers a whole shitstorm of missiles being fired in all directions. It turns into an ugly virtual mob fight.

Or, it’s the weird and confusing message you get from that one pain-in-the-ass coworker who just doesn’t seem to “get it” and you’re trying to figure out what the hell they’re trying to say.

Finally, there’s all of that bullshit passive aggressive messaging that you’ve been on the receiving end of. And to be honest, you’ve dished it out a few times to coworkers that fucking pissed you off as well.

You’ve been part of all these kinds of messaging situations and now you’re wondering if you’re stepping out of line at all.

Well, it’s time to check yo’ self.

Why Chat Etiquette Is So Important

There are two distinct worlds that we all live in. On one side, there is your personal, home and family life. And on the other, you have your professional work life.

Sometimes, these two worlds can overlap a bit in some circumstances, but for the most part, they remain separate.

How you behave in one world versus another is going to be different. This applies to things like what you wear, how you talk, how you act, etc. And more specifically in this case, how you communicate via instant messaging or chat.

How you text or chat with friends and family is totally different from how you do it with coworkers. It’s everything from the words you use, the tone of the sentences, the use of certain acronyms and of course, how you use emojis.

You have a whole lot more freedom of expression and you can really let loose with friends and family. However, just like how you can’t prance around in your undies at work, you can’t use your personal chat style at work. You’ve gotta adapt it to the office environment.

The main reason why is that you have a personal brand at work that you need to keep up. And, one of the biggest contributors to your image at work is how you behave and communicate with others.

Get this wrong and your professional standing at the office will take a hit. All it takes is a few missteps and the office gossip trap will spread it like wildfire.

If you don’t fix it and keep rubbing people the wrong way or continue to look like an idiot or the office asshole, then you’ll eventually find yourself cornered in a bad spot that you’ll never get out of.

Communication is an important and elemental foundation to not only your office persona but it’s also a critical tool for getting all your grunt work done.

This is why chat etiquette is so damn important.

Chat Etiquette To Look Smart & Be Productive

The primary purpose of instant messaging is to be able to get quick answers on things, usually within within 5-10 minutes. It’s not like email. There is a difference between the two.

Email is usually more dense with information and documentation. Email reply times are more flexible and it’s acceptable for people to get back to you in a few days if needed.

It’s also more official in the sense that it’s historically always been archived. It’s where the whole CYA email thing came to be.

Today, chat programs do save conversations, but the original principles of chat still remain the same. It’s usually for short and quick interactions.

And it’s these rapid responses that help you and your coworkers be more productive and get shit done.

And just like email, there are some etiquette rules that you need to follow so that you’re not coming across as an dork or work jerk.

1) Check Grammar And Spelling

Sometimes, when you’re sending or replying to chat quickly, spelling mistakes happen. It’s when you fat finger the keyboard and use the wrong button next to the correct one. These kinds of errors happen a lot.

What we’re talking about here is not that but the real spelling mistakes. When you consistently use the wrong word or spelling, it just makes you look dumb. So, be sure to check your grammar and spelling.

You can install and use a plugin called Grammarly that will automatically scan and proof your writing to make sure it’s correct.

2) Keep Intros Short & Sweet

Most work chat programs are for internal use among colleagues. So, there’s really no need for any formalities of greetings. It just takes up time and effort.

So, instead of the longer greetings and introductions, just keep it short and sweet and get to the point.

If you’re sending a chat message to a new coworker that you haven’t interacted with before, then a short intro about yourself is fine. But after that initial instance, there’s no need to do it again.

3) Keep It Casual But Professional

Think of chats like a casual hallway conversation with another coworker. There’s no need to address each other in formal terms - that’d be weird.

You can be more informal and casual with chat interactions. But there is a limit. You don’t want to be super casual like your chats with your work BFFs, which are more like friends than colleagues.

You want to be friendly and professional at the same time. So, no dropping f-bombs or sending NSFW shit.

4) Limit Chats To Quick Things

One of the more mentaly excrutiating things to deal with at work is having to read through an email that is like a book.

And as bad that that is, it’s even worse when that same kind of message appears in a chat. Obviously, the person sending the message didn’t get the memo about how chats are for short interactions.

Use the right tool for the communication.

Dense and heavy messages need to be sent via email, not chat. And conversely, using email for multiple back-n-forth quick replies isn’t efficient.

This is what chats are great for - quick back-n-forth interactions. 

5) Use Emojis Smartly

Emojis are fucking awesome. They really live up to the cliche “a picture is worth a thousand words” because that one little image can convey thoughts and emotions so well.

The earliest emojis were just simple text-based versions using the existing symbols on the keyboard. Today, using software programs, there’s a million different emojis that you can use, some of which are definitely NSFW.

For work chats, you want to stick with the safe and simple emojis like smileys, thumbs up/down, applause, okays, etc.

The great thing about emojis is that they can really give you that little boost of happiness at work and help you manage work stress just a little bit better.

6) Be Clear & Avoid Sarcasm

Still to this day, there are people that use sarcasm in emails and chats.

And guess what?

That shit still doesn’t come across as intended. In fact, in most cases, it screws things up and everyone gets confused and/or pissed off.

Sarcasm is really hard to pull off in digital communications. Whereas in the real world, you can see and hear the sarcasm through the person’s voice and body language.

Drop the sarcasm and stick with clear “to the point” communications. Everybody will get it and you’ll be understood which will then help you make progress on work.

7) Keep Your Status Updated

Ever send a chat to a coworker who is active or available in their status mode and not get a response?

Unresponsive coworkers are irritating AF, right?

Maybe it’s because they’re busy on a task or maybe they just stepped away from their desk for a few minutes. Either way, it can be annoying to others.

So, always remember to set your status accordingly. This will also help to minimize any interruptions by setting your status to busy or unavailable. Doing this will allow you to get in the zone with work.

8) Respond Promptly

Do you ever feel like you're being ignored in work chat?

You send a message and no one responds for what feels like forever. It's the worst, right?

Well, turns out that ignoring people in chat is a huge faux pas.

The purpose of chats are to get quick replies to important things. So, it’s important to reply to chats in a timely manner, usually within the 5 to 10 minutes. Any longer than that and you’ll start annoying people.

If you know that you can’t reply quickly, change your status to busy or not available. Or if you know that you’ll be super busy for a few hours, then logoff from chat. This way, you can do more with less stress from message distractions.

9) Don’t Rapid Fire Multiple Single Chats

There’s always that one person in your life that likes to send a series of messages in rapid succession. It’s like they’re firing a machine gun with chat/text bullets.

When these messages come in, they blow up your phone or desktop with a whole series of notification beeps. Dealing with these annoying coworkers derails productivity.

Don’t be that person.

If you’ve got multiple points that you want to make, then consolidate them into one message that isn’t too long. Then, wait for the other person’s reply to add on other points.

10) Send The Right Message Length

Following and expanding on the point above, you don’t want to send a chat filled with several paragraphs. Chats are really optimized for a single sentence, maybe two or three at most, but that’s it.

Anything more than this and you’re better off using email since it’s a much better medium for that.

Or, if it’s particularly complex and urgent like when you’re putting out fires, then send a chat and ask if they can talk over the phone with you in real time. Live conversations to discuss complex topics are much more effective than a really long drawn out chat dialogue.

11) Don’t YELL in ALL CAPS

Using capitalized words in chat is the equivalent of yelling at the top of your lungs in the meeting.

Would you do that in real life?

We didn’t think so.

The same applies to chats. You don’t want to use all caps in your messages unless in the rare instance that it’s justified - like giving congrats, sending birthday wishes or letting people know about the free office donuts that just arrived. No issues there.

For all other messages, don’t use all caps. Stick with normal capitalization.

12) Don’t Fly Off The Handle

In a similar category as above, you don’t want to lose your shit during a chat with another coworker or group.

It can be really easy to lose your temper and fly off the handle during some heated chat interactions. But you can’t. You need to keep your shit together, stay composed and professional.

If you lose it during a chat, it’s no different than losing it during an in-person meeting. It makes you look bad.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to keep all of those emotions all bottled up either. That’s not healthy. You need to vent at work and unload all the bullshit so that you can release all of those negative emotions.

Just do it separately somewhere else.

Chat Smart & Be Awesome

While it can be tempting to use work chat as an extension of your personal life, it's important to remember that there are certain chat etiquette rules that should be followed.

It’s all about maintaining professionalism while still being casual and friendly all while not compromising productivity. After all, using chat during work is all about getting quick answers and/or confirming and clarifying important things so that you can keep momentum even when things get fucking hard.

And when you make progress on tough tasks and projects, that’s when you feel like a superstar at work.

Be smart and efficient with your chats and you’ll be helping out others and yourself. Then, everyone makes progress, which in turn, creates that awesome giddy feeling of joyful productivity.

Now, get after it!

Feel Better,

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