Business Chat Etiquette: The Ultimate Guide for Professionals

Nov 2, 2023

Increase employee productivity through collaboration and communication by following these business chat etiquette rules.

April Khan - Guest Contributor
Business Chat Etiquette: The Ultimate Guide for Professionals

Sending dozens of short emails or sifting through spam folders to find buried responses isn't time-efficient or effective. If you find yourself doing this more often than not, business chat could be the right solution. Business chat tools, such as Microsoft Teams, are a valuable asset for hands-on small business owners. It improves your workflow by streamlining your conversations into easily accessible threads. However, you must follow good business chat etiquette to access this benefit and many more.

What is business chat etiquette?

Business chat is an invaluable tool that allows business partners, clients, and colleagues to communicate pertinent information in real time. Without being face to face, it is very easy for the tone of this communication or even the details to get lost in translation. This leads to frustration and misunderstandings. 

Work chat etiquette promotes clearer understanding by setting boundaries and outlining best practices when conducting business through chat. If you follow this etiquette, you'll minimize those misunderstandings and inherit benefits such as a boost in sales and happier customers.

Why is work chat etiquette important?

Without body language or vocal pitch, it's easy to misinterpret a digital message. You might interpret an exclamation mark as an expression of anger instead of excitement. Business chat etiquette ensures that the "tone" of a conversation is not lost and the context stays front and center. 

Professional conversation etiquette also:

  • Helps keep conversations productive and to the point

  • Minimizes workplace policy violations

  • Minimizes overstimulation

Professional chat etiquette ensures the person you're speaking to doesn't get distracted and fully understands the conversation. This saves time and helps you achieve goals faster.

What are the best practices for professional conversation etiquette?

Business chat is a cost-effective method of communication with tons of benefits. Small business owners use business chat programs such as Microsoft Teams to improve their company culture, support a positive work environment, and boost employee engagement. To get these benefits, you must follow Microsoft Teams etiquette; here's how.

  • Decide what you need to say before messaging: To make the most of business chat, decide what you want to say before sending your message. Short, concise messages are best; they convey to your colleague that you respect their time. 

  • Configure your notifications: Make sure to turn your notifications on. This way, you'll never drop the ball on an important message. In addition, make sure your status reads "available." If you appear "unavailable," you'll miss an opportunity to collaborate or miss a deadline.

  • Use Emojis, but sparingly: Emojis are a great way to emphasize your tone. And with business chat, the tone often gets lost in translation. When collaborating on a complex project, consider using emojis to boost morale. But remember to use them sparingly. Too many emojis disrupt the flow of your chat.

What are the common mistakes to avoid in business chat?

Professional chat etiquette sets the parameters for a healthy and productive conversation. Ignoring these parameters results in workplace mayhem. To reduce this risk, avoid the following common mistakes. 

  • Ignoring your colleague's availability status: If your contact's availability status says "busy" or "unavailable," resist the urge to message them. Instead, wait for a change in their status or send an email. 

  • Using chat for the wrong kind of message: Some messages are meant for chat, and others for email. Decide if your transmission needs immediate attention or if it's something that can wait. Email is more suitable for long messages that include multiple details. It is also ideal for non-urgent matters.

  • Using inappropriate GIF images: Avoid sending non-business-related GIF images to your colleagues or clients. Your humor and your colleague's humor might differ. To avoid ruffling feathers or becoming an HR issue, steer clear. 

  • Spamming your contact: One of the biggest blunders in chat etiquette is sending the same message repeatedly. If what you sent was urgent and they haven't replied, send an email and label it "Urgent."

  • Talking about your personal business: Business chats include elements of small talk. Asking someone how their day is going is perfectly fine. But bringing up personal matters is bad business chat etiquette.

How can you use business chat etiquette to improve your communication skills?

Good chat etiquette reminds you to set a positive tone and be more mindful of your word choices. Moreover, business chat etiquette teaches you to prepare a consolidated response that highlights the point and avoids unnecessary wordiness.


Example of employee instant messaging (Source)

How can you use chat etiquette at work to build relationships with colleagues and customers?

Business chat etiquette reminds you to be a better listener. This stops misunderstandings before they start. Companies that listen to and empathize with their customers stand out amongst their competitors.

Using good business chat etiquette also leads to more engaging and impactful conversations. Long messages can be difficult to calibrate and impossible for your colleague or customer to digest. Short and intentional communication—often accomplished through instant messaging—can boost engagement and foster clearer communication.

How can you use business chat etiquette to create a positive work environment?

Employees in a positive work environment produce better products, reach their goals quicker, and create happier customers. To support a positive work environment by using business chat etiquette, try the following:

  • Send a note of encouragement: Boost your colleague's morale by sending positive feedback. A brief message such as "Excellent job on today's collaboration!" or "You aced this!" is enough to shift the energy. 

  • Leave no room for gossiping: Business chat etiquette supports a less toxic workplace. Colleagues are less likely to gossip or send inappropriate communications, reducing employee absenteeism and turnover. 

  • Keep your lines of communication open: Let your colleagues know when you're available to chat. Being available puts less stress on your colleagues and reduces desk visits, thus increasing productivity.

Next steps 

A positive workplace is an efficient workplace. By following good business chat etiquette, everyone feels seen, heard, and, more importantly, recognized as a valuable part of the team. This is the recipe for a positive work environment and a more productive team.

Feel free to view the following resources to help you decide which business chat programs are best for your organization:

About the author

April Khan - Guest Contributor

April Khan is an experienced writer specializing in medical and marketing topics. As the owner of Gud Agency Inc., she published articles for companies including DropBox, NHS, and LG. Khan is educated in Media, Health Communications, and Healthcare Law.
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