6 Simple Rules for Effective Chat Communication

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Effective chat communication is critical to any successful business. With so many digital tools at our fingertips, we are now able to stay continually connected with our coworkers, colleagues, and clients. While this is a boon to productivity, it’s also more important than ever before to take steps to make sure your message will be well received and clearly understood by the person on the other end.

Here are six simple ways to make your professional chat style more efficient and effective:

Be organized.

To help ensure that chats make sense and include the right people, set up teams, rooms or channels that are clearly and specifically named and include just those working in a particular department (i.e. marketing, sales, etc.), with a certain client, or on a particular project. For general team bonding, consider setting up a virtual “break room” team or channel, where people can pop in to catch up and bond with their co-workers.

Know your audience.

Texting has trained us to be casual in our conversations, with a shorthand of acronyms and visuals (emojis, gifs, memes, etc.) for just about everything. When you’re in a business chat, keep in mind who you are addressing, the goal and purpose of your message, and how best to say it. Maybe you know what TTYL means, but does your 60-year old boss, and should s/he get that kind of informal sign-off?

Use chat for quick, concise communication.

Chat by definition is brief, so don’t write an entire dissertation in a message. Take your time to be sure you’re conveying the essential message without unnecessary embellishment. And if you find that you need to convey more information than is appropriate in an IM or chat, then make the call to use another mode of communication, such as a shared document or note.

Include next steps and other action-oriented details.

On team messaging platforms with built-in productivity tools, the important details you include in your messages, such as tasks, assignments, milestones, and deadlines, can instantaneously be added to team calendars and other project management features. Be sure to include all information necessary to make your message actionable.

Double check your chat.

Chats can easily end up full of typos and oddball autocorrects, especially if you’re typing from a mobile device. Make sure you proofread your messages before you send. Also, be accurate when you set a meeting or deadline, particularly when you work with remote team members. For example, “end of day” has a different meaning depending on where you are, and an 8:00 a.m. East Coast virtual meeting would likely be out of the question for a West Coast colleague.

Be courteous and respectful.

Like a live conversation, chat can have a more informal feel but that doesn’t mean it’s impersonal or impolite. Using the person’s name (which, as an @ mention, serves double duty by alerting that person there’s a message waiting), saying please and thank you, and taking the time to be thoughtful in your responses are all ways to demonstrate respect and support a pleasant, productive working relationship.

We spend much of our days communicating, and thanks to persistent chat, we’re more connected than ever before. These simple tips will help you sail through your work and ensure you’re clearly heard and understood.