Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
November 2007 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

Instant Messaging Etiquette

The growth of wireless communication has quickened the pulse of business. Now the wait can be minutes instead of days for a response to your request or question. You don’t even have to be in the office to handle business, thanks to cell phones and wi-fi computer technology. Along with other means of paperless communication, instant messaging and texting have become efficient business tools.

But business demands a certain degree of formality, even with the new, less formal technologies. Here are some quick tips to help you keep instant messaging business appropriate.

  • First, be courteous to the people around you. Don’t make an associate wait while you handle wireless business. Face-to-face communication takes precedence over electronic messages.
  • Use your IM-status response to indicate when you’re unavailable, and—if possible—record an automated message to tell others when you’ll be free.
  • Don’t use IM for unimportant messages. During business hours, keep your messaging business only. Besides, your messages may be monitored!
  • Never interrupt a meeting for an IM message—set your phone or pager to “silent.” And if you use a cell phone to include someone in a meeting, make sure that person knows he or she is “on speaker” to avoid embarrassing personal comments.
  • Answer calls or pages promptly. Remember, the key word in IM is “instant.” If you can’t reply right away, at least let the other person know you received the call and will respond as soon as possible.
  • Don’t share or forward messages to persons not involved in the situation. And, before forwarding a message, be sure it isn’t confidential.
  • Finally, avoid using emoticons or keying a message in ALL CAPITALS, which can be construed as shouting.

As with all business communication, keep your wireless messaging proper and professional. This will mark you as a real pro.

You can learn more about using instant messaging on pages 11-15 of Business and Sales Correspondence, part of the EZ Series of business-writing materials from UpWrite Press.

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That Little Extra

Do you have trouble keeping track of everything you have to do? Here’s an easy way to manage your schedule. Pick up a date book that gives one dated page for each day of the year, or use a blank book with lined pages, filling in the dates yourself. Then list the projects or errands you have to do on a particular day. As you accomplish each task, cross it off; as new jobs come up, add them at the bottom. At the end of the day, transfer any unfinished items to the next day and continue. This technique keeps you organized and on track. Of course, you can also use a computer calendar, deleting jobs as you finish them; but there’s something quite satisfying about physically crossing off an item on a “to do” list—and watching the “done” list grow!

Join Our Writers’ Forum

We invite you to be part of our monthly eTips. Each month we pose a question or problem regarding the use of writing in business. Send us your reply along with your name, your company’s name, and a brief description of what you do. We will print the best responses, and you will get your name out to our more than 5,000 subscribers! (We reserve the right to edit your remarks for fit and suitability.)

Do you have a special system for keeping notes in a meeting? Do you outline? Jot down main ideas? Use symbols or draw little pictures? Share your technique for remembering the high points of your business meetings.

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write "November Writers’ Forum" in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2007, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.