Writing Instant Messages

Diagram of an instant messages speed, formality and purpose. Image description available.
Figure 6.4 Instant Messages [Image Description]


It may seem weird to learn about instant messaging in a textbook, given that you probably are very familiar with it. But instant messaging is transforming workplaces, and major differences exist between using instant messaging with friends and using it with colleagues. Fans of instant messaging says it reduces the high volume of emails, allows people to get their questions answered quickly and enables people across multiple offices to talk without the need for meetings. Opponents say that instant messaging is distracting, that it results in too many side conversations and it’s not a secure medium.

To use instant messaging effectively, you should:

  • Avoid sending anything you wouldn’t be okay with the CEO reading. Sometimes, miscommunications happen because people use too many text-message acronyms, which makes their messages seem sloppy and confusing. When in doubt, err on the side of speaking clearly and plainly.
  • Respond promptly.
  • Adjust your tone and level of formality to your audience. Before communicating on a new channel, take a minute to watch your colleagues interact. How do people use grammar? Do they use GIFs? Is every message on-topic or do people chat about their lives? Every organization has a slightly different culture around Slack. Often miscommunications arise because people treat Slack like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Consider who needs to see your message. Are you posting in the right channel?
  • Since your coworkers might get notifications on their phones, only post during business hours.[1]
  • Don’t message everyone in the group (using @everyone on Slack) unless you really need to talk to everyone in the group.
  • Don’t criticize people. In fact, you should usually keep your tone positive.

Image Description

Figure 6.4 image description: This diagram shows that instant messages are very fast and informal. They’re usually used to reach someone quickly (both internally and externally), provide customer service and have discussions. [Return to Figure 6.4]

  1. https://www.nav.com/blog/9-embarrassing-slack-mistakes-avoid-22922/


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Business Writing For Everyone Copyright © 2021 by Arley Cruthers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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