8 Jun 2008
We use Instant Messaging at my job. I don’t like how some people use it and I wrote this guide a few years ago. As I re-read it today I realize that my feelings aren’t quite as strong as they used to be.
General Guidelines for Business IM
- Be specific
- Be direct and to the point
- Be courteous but avoid too many pleasantries
When to IM & When to Email, When to Call
IM can be a great tool for communicating. It can also be the WRONG tool. Here are a list of reasons to use instant messaging:
- Your message is urgent
- Your message is brief
- You expect your request will not take an extended period of time to fulfil
- Your message does not require followup
Reasons to use email:
- Your message is intended for more than one individual
- You wish to CC the individual’s superior to ensure proper priority is set to your request
Initiating a Conversation
When initiating a conversation it’s best to lead off with what you are contacting the other party for:
Frank: Hey Jane, could you check the fax machine to see if I got a fax? It's hard for me to make it up the stairs since I broke my ankle. Jane: Sure, just a sec Jane: Nope, no fax yet Frank: Darn. Maybe that African Prince email was a scam after all. Thanks anyway.
Another good example is the following:
(8:32:22) Jane: Hey Frank, let me know when you are back at your desk, I have a fax to drop by (10:15:11) Frank: I'm back Jane- that meeting was murder.
Here is an example of what not to do:
(8:12:22) Bill: Hey Ted! (meanwhile Ted sees the message but is very busy on something and decides to wait to see if Bill wants anything) (8:17:51) Bill: Hello? You there? (8:17:52) Ted: Yes, I'm here. Do you need something? (8:19:43) Bill: Oh, cool. I thought you weren't around because you didn't answer. (8:22:23) Bill: So.. hey, could you like do me a favor? (meanwhile Ted waits to see what Bill might need) (8:27:01) Bill: Ted! BUZZ! Hey did you go? (8:27:35) Ted: No. What do you need? (8:28:17) Bill: Ok, good because you didn't respond and I didn't know what happened. Can you check the report, I think their might be an error on it. (8:29:45) Ted: What report are you talking about?
You get the point. Because Bill didn’t specify his needs clearly and quickly Bill and Ted’s adventure cost Ted 4 interruptions and about 20 minutes of time that they won’t be able to get back.