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Wednesday 29 March 2017
News updated at 2:00 AM IST

Time to hone your messaging etiquette

Vidhi Nayar, June 17, 2016
For generations now, professionals have been craning their neck over screens, figuring the best ways to communicate with all stakeholders. Over the last couple of decades, their favourite choice, obviously has been “yours truly” email for enterprise communication. Slowly but surely, the need of the hour is changing. Today, the buzz is around faster, more real-time messaging apps at work.

Traditionally, messaging was considered a casual platform, common among social circles and friends. But with the advent of new age, smarter technology in the work-space, there is a gradual shift from archaic mediums of communication to enterprise messaging apps like Hipchat, Cotap or Flock. With this arises the need to mentally equip ourselves to make the most of these collaboration tools. Therefore, it’s high time we learn the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ of communicating on a team messaging platform.

Here’s a handy list that would help you spruce up your messaging etiquette:

• Though messaging is supposed to be for real time communication, start and conclude conversations with greetings and closures respectively. Otherwise, it may seem intrusive and rude.

• Often we assume that introductions on a group would be unnecessary as each member of the group would be aware of our presence. This might not be true in every case. Hence, introduce yourself before you start a discussion. Especially if you are new to a group.

• Update your status and profile picture. After all, your colleagues would love to know some basic information about you.

• In case you shall be unavailable for a couple of days or would be remotely available from any location, let your team know about it. Update your status and keep all important groups notified of your unavailability.

• Although team messaging apps are a great platform to collaborate, make sure to take private conversations out of groups. This reduces unwanted noise in groups and leads to faster response time.

• ‘Hi’ and ‘Sup’ are salutations, not conversations in themselves. Don’t leave a colleague hanging at just that. Complete the conversation by providing context of discussion to the other person.
• Signing off for a bit? Set your status to ‘DND’. This saves a trip to your desk in case you don’t respond to important messages.

• Majority of messaging tools are equipped with @mentions to direct the attention of a person in group conversations. Make optimum use of this function in order to have directed conversations, without disturbing other members of the group.

• Use video calling for long discussions, instead of messaging. It’s much more effective, and gets the job done. Most team communication tools are loaded with video calling as an in-built feature.

• Create task or project specific groups and add only relevant members to the group. Don’t disturb the rest of the team with unrelated discussions.

• Excuse yourself, if you need to leave a conversation midway. Don’t disappear without a trace, never to return.

• Don’t yell. There are better ways to put your point across than leaning on the caps lock key. Hence, avoid conversations that have all elements with capital letters.

• Use smileys. They are available for a reason. It definitely adds to some cheer at work.

• Abbreviations are acceptable. We know how busy you are. Just don’t overdo it as they might not get your point across always.

• Avoid sharing large files in groups. This may lead to a lot of devices not functioning optimally and cause disruptions in ongoing important assignments. Let’s refrain from any abuse of the company’s bandwidth.

• Most importantly, keep conversations short and to the point. Short conversations are easier to understand and register faster.

In this modern era, team communication tools are a company’s safest bet. Packed with powerful features, user friendly interface and flexibility across platforms, these apps are a compelling alternative to emails.

Professionals can now completely avoid wading through cluttered email inboxes, would no longer get distracted by constant stream of junk mail or have to deal with never ending threaded conversations.

Remember: Your messaging app is your ally at work to get the job done. Always make the most of it.

(The writer is Marketing Manager, Flock, an enterprise messaging app for teams)

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