Slack, Basecamp, Twist, Flock--whatever it's called in your office, you probably use an instant messaging platform at work.
Apps like these remove the need for constant meetings and relieve the barrage of emails flooding your inbox. It's no wonder they've become the center of communication in most offices. However, when used in the wrong way, these apps can stir up miscommunication, ruin productivity, and blur the lines between work and personal life. So, make sure you're not making any of these messaging mistakes:
1. Building an insular culture
Messaging apps create a strong sense of community. Because of that, it's tempting to create inside jokes or secret memes that only your group knows about.
These jokes are fun, but the behavior can turn your team or company into a giant clique, discouraging new people from joining in. In order to make the community comfortable for everyone, it's best to avoid creating an insular culture by keeping private jokes off group chats. If you see someone else on the team doing it, tell them in person how it might be making the rest of the team feel. Chances are they didn't realize that their jokes were making others feel left out.
2. Endless private chats
Messaging platforms are meant to make your life easier by transforming your work conversations. They're not meant to be a digital water cooler for small talk or gossip.
A June study by RescueTime showed that productivity went up when Slack was down for a day. That's a sign that many conversations on the platform aren't actually work-related.
Private chats are best kept to a minimum of a few short breaks per day. If you wouldn't chat to your neighbor the entire day while working, you probably shouldn't be doing that on an app either.
3. Making yourself constantly available
Most of us own a smartphone and have at least one social media account. Since these networks are always "on," we often feel guilty when we're unavailable for a period of time.
But if not managed properly, your company's messaging platform can quickly dominate your entire day. To increase your focus on your most important tasks, set a "Do Not Disturb" message to let your colleagues know you can't be bothered.
And when you get home, just turn it off. You deserve to have your own private time away from work.
4. Having important conversations over text
Has anyone ever broken up with you by with text message? You feel like the person doesn't care about you, and it's really awkward when you see them again.
In business settings, many of us have important conversations over text when we should be talking face-to-face (or at least over the phone). Sending a quick message is fast, easy, and avoids awkward confrontation. But if the conversation is around a big decision or announcement or could become emotional, resist the urge to send it over text.
Chances are, your coworker will appreciate your respect and honesty and you'll be able to build a stronger relationship with him or her.
5. Ghosting a chat without saying anything
Sometimes you have to run off to a meeting or focus on work for the next few hours. That's completely normal. You can't be expected to keep checking the latest chats for new updates all the time.
But when you do need to leave, don't just disappear. Other people may be having an important conversation and expect you to reply. If you don't tell them where you're going, it might look like you're ignoring the conversation. Just send a quick message to let them know where you'll be, and go on your way.