Tips workplace

Is there ever such a thing as too much IM?

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.


Putting the ‘Instant’ in Instant Messaging

Making all of our communication instant, in text messages, emails, cell phone calls, and finally, instant messaging, has made us a society of expecting an answer right away. While sometimes this has made us more efficient, effective, and better communicators, it has also made us somewhat impatient.

If I see that a friend of mine is online, and their buddy name is marked as “Available”, I get irritated if I try to talk to them and ask them a question, and they don’t respond. This is probably the only communication medium where I feel this way. For text messages, emails, or phone calls, I don’t get antsy if I don’t get an immediate response.

I guess that is why it’s called ‘instant’ messaging- the status messages are there for a reason- so we can mark ourselves as ‘Busy’, ‘Away’, ‘Available’  or a short message of what we are doing in case people wish to contact us. This is definitely not something we can do with text, phone calls, or emails (unless we are gone for a long period of time and can set an email auto-responder).

A important rule of thumb is to utilize your status messages- if you cannot talk or respond, then set your status message as ‘Away’ or ‘Busy’ with a time of when you’ll be able to talk again (if possible).

General workplace

Which is Better, Text Messaging or Instant Messenger?

This is a question the crossed my mind while I was talking to a friend online about plans we have on Wednesday to go out to dinner. I decided that my answer to this question that I’m posing (“Which is Better, Text Messaging or Instant Messenger?”) depends on the situation.

When I’m at work, I like using my instant messenger because I like typing on a keyboard (I can type 65-70 words per minute), and I also can focus on work and other projects while having a conversation through the IM window. This allows me to communicate with co-workers or friends without decreasing my work efficiency and content output.

However, when I’m at home or on the go, I definitely like text messaging better. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have a Palm Pre, so the full QWERTY keyboard allows me to still type fast. Also, unlike using an instant messenger, most of the time, my contacts don’t expect an instant answer, allowing me to respond to their question or comment when it is necessary for me. Texting is also usually quick to the point and gets things done, whereas at work, I usually use IM for chatting or long conversations about projects.

What does everyone else think? Do you prefer texting over using an instant messenger?


Should You Use IM to Fight?

I know that confrontation is something that no one looks forward to. However, there comes a time when confrontation is necessary and can’t be avoided. Even then, instead of speaking to the person you have a disagreement with face-to-face, many people resort to other methods — phone, email, or instant messaging.

And when it comes to instant messaging, especially hosted instant messaging, confrontation and fighting over this method of communication isn’t always the best method to use. For one, if you are using a hosted or secure IM client to have your conversations, what you say may be recorded by the program and can be seen by the security administrator of the program.

Even if you aren’t using a hosted IM messenger, confrontation is best handled face-to-face. This way, what you say can’t be misinterpreted because the other person cannot see your face or the hear the tone of your voice. Sarcasm also usually doesn’t carry well over instant messaging conversations, and this may “fuel the fire” and make an argument become bigger than it needs to be.

Face-to-face conversations also tend to be more productive because each person is solely focused on what is being said, instead of trying to multi-task during an IM conversation. Overall, if a confrontation arises, it’s important to handle it as soon as possible so it can be resolved and no more useless energy and anxiety is spent on it.


How to Use IM While Traveling

For many businessmen and women, it can be hard to break away from their work and/or home computers while they are traveling, either for work or for personal reasons. However, it is possible to still use IM, even though you are not at your current computer.

Some hosted instant messaging programs allow you to take your IM program any where you want on a jump/flash drive, sometimes called a USB drive. The program is downloaded onto this mobile storage drive as a .ZIP file, and can be used on any computer. This is a great idea when you will have a computer available to you (such as in the hotel lobby or a relative’s computer), but want to use your same instant messaging program.

Another great method of using an instant messenger program while you are on the go is through your cell phone. I know there are some drawbacks — taking longer to type, battery life, etc., but if the person you are trying to reach is only available through IM, then it may be your best bet. My new Palm Pre had AIM and GoogleTalk already integrated into the phone, and I know that other phones have the ability to connect to AIM as well.

Good Luck!

General Tips workplace

Saving on Travel Costs by Using an Enterprise IM Client

As the sky is gray and the clouds are filled with rain just outside my window today, it made me think about how I would hate to travel to a meeting in the pouring rain. This made me think about how businesses can use an enterprise IM client to dramatically cut down travel costs. Sure, once in a while, I think that it’s fun to take that 3-day trip to Chicago for a meeting, but that does take time away from friends, family, and pets. Besides the obvious cost, traveling can also be exhausting at times, because there are meetings to attend and flights to catch.

However, if you conduct your meetings using enterprise instant messaging, then you save the cost, time, and travel of going to meetings in other cities. Whereas a trip for one person to Chicago for 3 days would probably run a company at least $1000-1500, using an enterprise IM client is free, if you don’t take into consideration the subscription cost, which you are paying for anyway. Using voice chat, video chat, or group IM conversations, meetings can now be done electronically through the internet. This is the most efficient method of conducting meetings between people who are not in the same office or location.

Announcements General

Brosix 3 BETA Has Been Released

As most of you loyal readers know, this blog is working in conjunction with Brosix in order to bring quality information and resources to those looking for information on hosted and secure instant messaging. Today,Brosix announced on its blog that the Brosix 3 BETA version has been released, with downloads available for Windows and Linux. I know that the Brosix developers are working hard on creating a version for Mac OS, and I’m sure that is next up on their list of important To-Dos.

While the Brosix 3 version doesn’t have ALL the features of the previous versions, the developers are working hard to ensure that the most important features for users are still successful in this new version. Here is a run down of the currentBrosix 3 features, as stated in a previous blog post-

“We have tried to select the most important features for Brosix 3:

* Text Chat
* Text Conference
* History – compared to Brosix 2.0 this contains information about all communication events, not only text chat which is the case with Brosix 2.0
* File Transfer
* Co-Browse – this uses improved and more user-friendly process.
* Screen-shot”

These are some of the most-used featured among Brosix users. Some of the features not included in this new version are:

* Whiteboard
* Screen Sharing
* Audio call
* Video call
* Voice Conference
* Voice Mail

These features are currently being re-designed with a efficient and more effective user experience in mind. To download and try the new version of Brosix 3 BETA, try:

For those who are business clients of Brosix, you can download the enterprise version here:


Do Seasons Affect Your Online or IM usage?

I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but I know that the season is strongly correlated to how much time I spend outside. As a result, my time spent online or using hosted instant messaging sometimes changes significantly. For example, in the winter, I’m more likely to be inside a lot since it is too cold to be outside. However, when the weather is nice in the spring or summer, I spend A LOT of time outside- laying by the pool, grilling outside, and walking or jogging outside. Nice weather makes me really happy and in a much better mood.

These are the 2 ways that seasons affect the amount of time I spend (and how I spend) my time online-
–mood: Since I am in a better mood overall during the spring, fall, and summer, I tend to be more social and helpful overall to the co-workers and business associates I talk to online. 🙂
–usage: As I stated earlier, if the weather is nicer, I’m much more likely to be outside, instead of being stuck inside on the computer. Even though this may not always be the case during working hours, I am more likely to take sometime off to vacation during the nicer months.

Do seasons affect your online, internet, and instant messaging use?

Announcements General News

Palm Pre Allows Mobile IM

Hey all, Just wanted to talk about my new Palm Pre that I got today with a new contract from Sprint. (I know this sounds like an advertisement, but it isn’t, I swear!) There were 3 things I wanted in a new cell phone- the ability to access the internet at all times, a QWERTY (computer layout) keyboard, and the ability to talk to my friends as much as I wanted, whether that be through unlimited text messaging or instant messaging.

Luckily, the Palm Pre has exceeded all my expectations. Not only does it have unlimited data (for web surfing) and text messaging, it also has the ability to add my AIM and Google Talk account so I can IM my friends, family, and co-workers even when I’m on the go.

Unfortunately, the Palm Pre doesn’t have one thing- secure instant messaging. You would think that a phone that has a completely original operating system (unique from the iPhone) would have more security, but unfortunately it (and almost all other phones) do not. Hopefully, one day all connections and communication channels that are used to send and receive information will be secure, but until then, I may sure that I don’t trade any confidential information using IM on my Palm Pre.

General Tips workplace

When Other Forms of Communication Fail

One of the benefits of online communication (specifically instant messaging) is when other forms of communication fails, it is always an option. For me personally, I am much more inclined to respond quickly to a person’s IM then I am to their email or voicemail message. I suppose it is the “instant” component of IM that makes me so quick to respond. I feel that they are on the other side of their computer, anxiously awaiting me to answer them.

And because of this, you should learn to utilize hosted or secure instant messaging in your everyday life as well. If a person shows up as online, then you know they are usually using their computer and will immediately respond for your request. I’ve also found that instant messaging is good when I go to talk to a co-worker at their desk and found that they have stepped out for lunch or to use the bathroom. I go back to my computer and send them an IM instead of an email, because I know that it is probably the first thing they will see on their screen when they sit back down. This usually leads to an instant response the moment they are back at their desk. Think of IM as a more personal message service- this can increase communication turnaround and productivity.