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  • Writer's pictureAnna Conrad

Do This Before Sending That IM

The stigma of (wink) "working from home" as a way of taking a vacation day has disappeared. Glimpses into personal lives may create a greater connection amongst team members, but it has also led to blurred boundaries between work and family life. Because of this, it is critical to use extreme caution when sending instant messages.

The real-time capability of tools like Slack makes it easy to send quick questions or comments. When you send a message asking, “Can you just give this a quick look?” or “Could you add your ideas to this before I send it?” the recipient might believe they need to reply immediately (especially if you outrank them). Before you send the message, evaluate how urgent the request is, and use email if you do not need an immediate response. If it can't wait for them to check their email, communicate the urgency while respecting others’ time and boundaries by following these suggestions:

  • Ask if they have time to help or answer the question.

  • Give an estimate of how long the task should take.

  • Ask when they will be able to help.

  • Respect their “Do Not Disturb” mode.

  • Do not send messages after hours. Even if you write, "Don't respond to this until tomorrow," it will weigh on the recipient's mind, making them feel pressured to reply.


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