Instant Messaging Etiquette

Posted: September 1, 2006 in Top 10's
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If email is the electronic equivalent of letters, instant messaging (IM), a.k.a. chatting, is the electronic equivalent of phone conversations. It can be very useful if used properly, but also can be dangerous (on many levels) if used in an incorrect manner. In a previous post, I wrote about email etiquette, so now I list some of the things you should always remember when using instant messaging.

  1. When you start messaging someone, make sure they have the time to chat with you. Start by asking the person if they are available to talk for some time. Respect the fact that they might be busy, and don’t get offended.
  2. Use your “status messages” effectively. In most instant messaging programs, you can display a message that says “Busy” or “Away”, etc. Use them to reflect your status, and respect others’ status as well. DO NOT set your status to AWAY all the time, because this way it loses its meaning, and makes you lose your credibility.
  3. Be careful what you write. Don’t write anything that you won’t say on the phone. Most importantly, don’t write anything that you won’t write in an email. Chat logs can be saved and can be used against you later on.
  4. Don’t stuff your messages with abbreviations, such as BRB, LOL, PLZ, THX, G2G. You can use these every now and then, but not all the time. Seriously, they look pretty stupid when they’re all over the place.
  5. Use emoticons where appropriate. The help the person on the other side to “see” if you’re being sarcastic or surprised, etc. Using them can help avoid a lot of misunderstanding that might occur.
  6. Don’t chat with too many people at once. First, you’ll probably lose track of what you’re talking about. Second, you’ll keep the other persons waiting too long for your reply. I cannot maintain a good conversation with more than 2 people at once.
  7. Do not use Instant messaging to deliver serious or bad news. This should be done in a more personal and face-to-face manner.
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