| editorial staff
Guest commentary by Tobias Stepan, founder and managing director of Teamwire GmbH.
Messaging communication is popular – also in the professional environment. Texts, images and voice messages can be transmitted quickly and easily within the team. However, this can often lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings, which often have serious consequences in a business context. In order for a business messenger to provide the best possible support for the organization in communication, coordination and collaboration in the relevant areas of application, a number of communication rules are required – a kind of messenger netiquette.
The term is made up of “Net” for the Internet and “Etiquette”. A netiquette recommends and explains basic rules of conduct for a good, respectful and appropriate tone in external, but above all internal communication. Such communication rules also exist in a similar form for other channels, such as e-mail, telephone, personal conversations, etc. But especially for quick and brief ones Communication via Business Messenger Netiquette helps to communicate more effectively and efficiently, but also correctly – and thus to work together more successfully. After all, no one in the team wants to work on tasks twice, miss out on process updates or implement specifications incorrectly due to communicative misunderstandings. Anyone who heeds the following twelve rules of messenger netiquette is on the safe side when it comes to communication.
1. Keep messages short and sweet
Concise sentences are the be-all and end-all of messenger netiquette when messaging. If the information cannot be conveyed in a few sentences, a voice message or video call is recommended. If there is a lot of information, you should think about alternative media. Because sending extensive information via text message is not only annoying for the recipient, but also misses the purpose of concise transmission.
2. Answer as a whole
Some people have a habit of sending each word or half a sentence of a text message one at a time. For the recipients, this means many consecutive signal tones, which can rightly disturb them. It is better to send whole sentences and structure information with the help of paragraphs.
3. Stay professional
Since Messenger is used here for professional communication, it is worth remembering that any text sent reflects one’s professionalism. When making first contact, it is also advisable to briefly introduce yourself in one sentence. Capital letters or bold text are usually out of place. Also from an exaggerated punctuation like “???” and “!!!” should be avoided. Because it would imply shouting a message or giving it undue importance.
4. Use emoticons
Emoticons and emojis have established themselves in messengers and everyone knows and uses them. Emoticons also have their place in the professional use of a messenger and can support communication and collaboration. In some cases, emoticons can also loosen up communication and contribute to a positive mood. However, Messenger Netiquette recommends using emoticons in moderation and as a supplement to text. Because everyone interprets emoticons differently and does not necessarily know all emoticons, so this can also lead to confusion.
5. Use group chats sensibly
Group chats act as a central communication environment so that employees can exchange information directly and from any location. Sometimes the entire department or all members of a team are stored in the chats. Basically, one should ask oneself whether messages are relevant for all participants in a group chat or should be communicated better in a smaller circle. It can also be important to separate professional and leisure-related communication. Chain messages, voting on events, silly videos, etc. should be shared in a separate group chat.
6. Respond in a timely manner
Often there are unconscious “rankings” in the head of how quickly colleagues react to a certain communication channel. If you receive a message in Messenger, you should reply promptly. Because the chosen communication channel implies that the sender wants a quick reply and direct exchange. If a timely reaction was not possible, you should perhaps apologize briefly in the reply.
7. Write at appropriate times
Despite flexible working hours, Messenger Netiquette recommends sending text messages during official working hours. Because for some people, receiving news late in the evening or very early in the morning is downright a red rag. Sometimes notes about priority, such as “not urgent, but important” help to avoid unnecessary pressure.
8. Be patient
Situations can always arise in which the other person cannot answer immediately – even though the message has already been received and read. Of course, you are allowed to follow up, but you should wait two to three hours, depending on the urgency.
9. Pay attention to the language
A text message can only be read and not supported by gestures or facial expressions. The more precise the expression, the clearer the communication. For example, sarcasm or harsh words are generally not recommended as they can be misunderstood and lead to misinterpretation. It is therefore advisable to use neutral formulations and good expression.
10. Think about proofreading
Text messages stand for a quick answer. Nevertheless, grammar and spelling should always be checked there. Autocorrect should also be checked regularly.
11. End dialogue clearly and politely
Once the topic to be discussed has been dealt with, it is advisable to end the conversation with a thank you or a promise of an early report.
12. Select a suitable profile picture
The profile picture should match the organization and personality. A serious photo or – very simply – the initials of the employee are a good choice here. Depending on the corporate culture, profile pictures such as those used in social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) can also be suitable.
Anyone who internalizes this messenger netiquette and its twelve basic rules will be able to better exploit the full potential of a business messenger in internal communication and collaboration.
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