Instant Messaging Etiquette

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In Brief...

There are some best practices for instant messaging (IM) that you should follow to ensure you communicate effectively and appropriately.


  1. Check in. Start a chat with someone by asking if they are available. Even though their IM says they are available doesn't mean they aren't on the phone or engaged with something else.
  2. The "I" stands for "Instant". Remember that instant messaging is instant; if the matter that you need to discuss is something that is better documented in an email that the recipient can refer back to, email may be the better communication medium.
  3. Conclude your message. End the IM conversation courteously by letting your colleague know the conversation is over. Say something like "Ok, thanks, I will be working on this later today. Bye."
  4. Respect corporate policy on use of IM. In some organizations, it is corporate policy that workers log in to IM while they are working. Check the policies where you work to see if this applies to you, and if so, be sure to stay logged in during working hours.

Author: Margaux Judge

Margaux Judge has worked as an e-learning editor and instructional designer for over ten years, writing and editing a wide variety of courses, from technical topics to soft skills. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and Textual Studies from Syracuse University and a Master's degree in Television Writing from Boston University.