Is it possible to be inundated (or to inundate others) with too many instant messages? I definitely believe so. As with any type of communication medium, including telephone, e-mail, and postal mail, it is possible to over-communicate with someone.
That is why, when you are deciding how to take your communication methods to the next level in your workplace, you need to make sure you use moderation so things do not get out of hand.
The following are some examples of major DON’Ts when you are using instant messaging in order to communicate:
- Sending a “follow-up” IM that says, “Hello!?” or “Are you there?!” when a person doesn’t respond. Don’t you think they would have responded if they were available?
- Typing in all CAPS. This is the equivalent of shouting when read through an online medium. If you need to emphasize something, use the bold or italic styles, if possible.
- Asking questions you can find out for yourself. I usually never ask other co-workers over IM silly questions like, “What’s the weather forecast for tonight?” or “What time is the meeting?” unless there’s a way I can look it up online myself. This prevents my co-worker from getting distracted (thereby, interrupting their workflow).
- Over-exertion through IM. Sometimes, if a message is longer than a few sentences, than it may be best to transfer your message to an email, where it can be stored easily and answered when the other person has time.
- Under-explaining through IM. Having an IM client installed on your computer doesn’t make you a mind reader. It’s the same for everyone else. Simply typing the message “Are you almost finished?” is much less clear than “What’s the status on that copy you promised me today?”
Try to remember the golden rule- only IM others the way you want to be IM’ed. Respect others’ time and resources and try to use IM only when necessary.