Some would say that there’s never been any real etiquette on this unruly and often rude Internet.
I’ve certainly addressed this issue again and again. However, one thing that I haven’t yet discussed is the phenomenon of instant messaging. More and more, like all communication technologies out there, IMing is becoming the norm. I don’t walk over to my bosses desk to ask him a question, we instant message instead. Laziness? Sure, but that’s really not the point.
With this proliferation, it’s still important to know how to respond with aplomb and politesse.
So, I’ve put together a list of six tips for acceptable instant messenger behavior that addresses some of my biggest pet peeves.
- Use a greeting, even if it’s of the “hi” or “hey” variety.
- Finish that thought. If you’re chatting with someone and busy, just let them know with a simple “BRB” (shorthand for “be right back”) or “one sec.” Don’t let others think you impolite, unaware, or an imbecile.
- Use your away message when you’re away, and change your away message when you come back or are available again.
- Go invisible. Most services allow you to set your online status to invisible. If you do, you will have to initiate contact with friends online but you won’t have people bothering you when you’re busy.
- Know the time and place for what you have to say. IM is a transient form of communication; it’s for the easy stuff. If you have anything of importance to say, put it in an email, put in a phone call, or make some face time.
- Let people know when you’re signing off. Don’t just log off without some form of closing. You wouldn’t hang up mid-conversation; I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to log off their instant message service sans adieu.