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14 Etiquette Tips for Using Chat at Work (IN 2024)

Workplace communication has come a long way since the days of the telegraph ;)

Today, instant messaging apps like Slack have become popular tools for coworkers to communicate and collaborate on projects.

Chatting can be a great way to stay in touch with colleagues and get work done more efficiently. an asian woman on a zoom call

However, there are some etiquette rules that should be followed when using chat at work, in order to avoid any misunderstandings or office drama.

Here are 14 tips for chatting etiquette in the workplace:

1. Don't “Seen Zone” People

Seen zoning people is a bit of a faux pas, especially when you're chatting with someone you work with.

If you've read a message and don't respond, the other person will think you're ignoring them.

You don't need us to tell you that'll lead nowhere good - be make sure to respond to people in a timely manner, even if it's just to say you're busy and will get back to them later.

Maybe it means checking your messages at certain intervals or, at the very least, not reading messages until you've got the time to actually respond to it!

2. Avoid Scattered Messages in a Stream

When you're chatting with someone, it's best to keep all your messages in one stream. That way, the other person can follow the conversation more easily.

If you have to leave the chat for a bit or want to continue the conversation later, you can always add a message saying so. That way, your coworker knows what's going on and can respond accordingly.

3. Don't Get Into Arguments Over Chat

Arguing with someone over chat is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it unprofessional, but it's also a surefire way to make things awkward between you and the other person.

If you find yourself getting into an argument with someone, take a step back and try to resolve the issue offline. You can always set up a meeting or call to discuss the matter in person.

4. Be Careful with Mentions and Push Notifications

Just because you can mention someone in a chat doesn't mean you should. Spamming people with notifications is a surefire way to annoy them.

Only use mentions when it's absolutely necessary, such as when you need someone's attention for an urgent matter. Otherwise, stick to regular messages.

5. Refrain from Public Criticism

If you have something negative to say about someone, it's probably best not to do so over chat... Saying anything negative about a colleague, even if it's just in jest, can come off as mean-spirited and unprofessional.

If you absolutely have to say something, take it offline.

6. Don't Edit/Delete Messages After Getting a Response

Once you've sent a message, it's best not to edit or delete it. That can come off as manipulative, as if you're trying to change the other person's opinion of what you said.

If you made a mistake or said something you didn't mean, the best thing to do is apologise and move on.

7. Know When to Use Email

Email is still an important tool in the workplace, even if instant messaging has somewhat taken over in recent years. Some things are better suited for email, such as longer messages or messages that need to be read at a later time.

If you're not sure whether to use chat or email, err on the side of caution and go with email.

8. Don’t Start With a Guessing Game

If you're not sure whether someone is available to chat, it's best to just ask. Don't start with a guessing game of "Are you there?" or "Can you talk?" - that'll just waste everyone's time.

Get straight to the point and ask if the person is free to talk. If they're not, they'll let you know and you can move on.

9. Be Clear and Intentional as You Open Conversations

When you start a chat, be clear about why you're doing so. Don't just launch into a conversation without any context - that'll just confuse the other person.

Give a brief explanation of why you're messaging them, such as "I need to ask you about the report from last week." That way, they know what the conversation is about from the get-go.

10. Don’t Think Out Loud, One Line at a Time

When you're typing out a message, it's best not to think out loud one line at a time.

That'll just clutter up the chat and make it difficult for the other person to follow the conversation.

Type out your thoughts before sending them, so that they're clear and concise.

11. Use Proper Grammar and Punctuation

Just because you're chatting doesn't mean you can skimp on proper grammar and punctuation. In fact, it's even more important to use proper language in chat, as there's no way for the other person to hear your tone of voice.

12. Use Emojis Sparingly

Emojis are a great way to add context and personality to a chat, but they should be used sparingly. Overusing emojis can come across as unprofessional, or even child-like.

Save them for special occasions, such as when you want to add emphasis to a message or make a joke.

11. Don’t Send People a Single Message The Length of a Book Chapter

Just as with email, it's important to be concise when you're chatting. No one wants to receive a wall of text - it's just too much to process all at once.

Keep your messages short and to the point, so that the other person can easily understand what you're trying to say.

4. Watch Your Language

When you're chatting, it's important to remember who you're talking to. That means using a level of language and tone that's appropriate for the person you're talking to.

For example, you would use different language with your boss than you would with a colleague or friend.

Just because you're not face-to-face with someone doesn't mean you can let your guard down and use whatever language you want. Swearing, making offensive jokes, and using derogatory terms are all big no-nos in the workplace.

14. Consider Your Audience

This ties in with the point above - always consider who you're talking to before you hit send. Would they be offended by your language or tone?

If so, it's best to rethink your message...

Wrapping Up:

As with any other form of communication, there are some etiquette tips to follow when using chat at work.

By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your chats are effective and pleasant for all participants.

Have you ever been guilty of violating any of these chat etiquette rules? Let us know in the comments!

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