Skip to main content

Professional Business Chat Room Etiquette

Ruby is a writer and entrepreneur. Her online expertise gives her a unique perspective on how to integrate technology into everyday life.

Business Ethics and Your Online Chat Room

Business Ethics and Your Online Chat Room

What Is Professional Behavior in Business Chat Rooms?

Large portions of the workforce have made the adjustment to working online. Some businesses have a blended workforce, with employees working part-time in the office and part-time at home. Other businesses have switched to a primarily online workforce. This is new for a lot of people, but it is our reality. Now is the time to adapt to working within chatroom environments and become skilled at professionalism in business chatrooms and within the online workspace.

It all boils down to one question: Would you behave that way in a brick and mortar building? No. Then don't do it online either! It is important to learn to behave professionally in a workplace chat room.

Adapting to tech goes beyond the intellectual. It brings social, mental, and emotional awareness in to focus on the same plane. Online business chatrooms can be used to promote healthy attitudes and to create a positive work environment. It is all about creating a strong and professional online community within your workplace.

To do that let's take a look at the basics of what professionalism is and how to carry it over into the online workspace and into the chat rooms.

What is professionalism?

I think Belinda Fuller from Katie Roberts Career Counseling covers this topic the best. Her article covers the basic 14 rules of professional behavior. The gist of it is that in a professional atmosphere, such as a workplace, people must treat each other in a respectful manner.

But how do we carry the professional techniques that we are all used to from our brick and mortar environment to an online environment? Keep reading, and we will explore that below!

8 Basic Professional Business Chatroom Social Rules for Workers

In this section, we will cover professionalism, specifically in the aspect of online chat rooms.

1. Read the Rules and TOS

How will you know what is expected from your chat room behavior if you haven't read the rules? Read your company's rules in their mission statement and in the TOS (Terms of Service).

I know most people are used to just clicking past the TOS, but 90% of what you need to know lies there. I know the text is generally small, so use your devices resize option to make the text bigger. It is usually CTRL+ (-) or (+) or with a touch screen; just use your fingers to resize it.

2. Be Patient! And No Yelling!

When you send a message in an online chat room, don't expect an instant response, even if that is what you are used to. For example, if you keep sending messages over and over about your problem, then you will be regarded as spamming, which is general online etiquette and a NO-NO.

If you repeatedly message, it is like standing next to someone's desk and asking them the same question over and over. Give them time to respond. Turn off your caps lock, and don't give the excuse that you don't know how or it is broken. When a word, or words, are written in all caps, this means you are yelling. Would you be yelling in the office? Well, don't do it online.

3. Write a Specific Message and Read the Previous Chat

Working in an online chat space gives everyone the time to think about what they say, how they say it, and the timing of the message. Write grammatically correct and full sentences. Things like punctuation help the reader understand the tone of your message.

It is ok to use emojis where appropriate, although they are best used as reactions. Platforms such as Slack and Discord are two examples of chatrooms that allow you to use emojis as reactions. Learn to use them.

In business chat rooms, always make sure you ask yourself if the message fits with your reputation. Remember, what goes online stays online forever. People can take screenshots, logs, and back up what has been said. So, make sure you create messages that show your true personality in a professional way.

Remove all filler words. Write the message, then check to see if it needs to be edited so that it is more direct and gets to the point. Lots of questions may already have been answered within the existing chat. Make sure to read the backlog or to use the search function to check to see if the question has already been answered previously in chat. This keeps the same sets of questions from having to be answered over and over.

4. Think About the Reader

When you are at work, you must go out of your way to try to be polite to others. Remember, a business chat room is not like a personal chat room. You need to think before you type. Before you send a message, ask yourself how it might affect other people's mental and emotional states.

Professional chat room behavior should not seem hateful, mean, or rude in any way. Basically, be considerate of others' feelings. Type with a professional attitude. Be kind and willing to hear the opinion of others. Don't get snippy or rude with your coworkers just because you are online. Just know that being a jerk isn't cool anymore.

5. Beware Confidential Info, Especially When Posting Screenshots

Again, remember that the internet is forever. Make sure you know what you are allowed to share and what is so confidential it should not be talked about in the open chatroom environment. *Be especially mindful when posting screenshots. Make sure they don't violate company policy.

6. Use the Chain of Command

If you do have a problem in your online business chat room, think about the chain of command. Know your business's policies on when it is ok to send a private message to your boss, how to make complaints professionally, and what your company's preferred way of being contacted with issues is.

If every employee constantly bombards management, no one will get anything done. To prevent this, companies will have their own policies as to whether or not you can directly private message your boss. Some companies allow it only when management asks for or initiates the DM (direct message). Some companies want you to use email, and other companies use a support ticket system. The online protocol might be different than what you are used to.

7. Learn to Tag Specific Readers and Use Threaded Chat

Some platforms set threaded chat as the default, suck as Slack. This groups messages together and allows you to have sub-chats within the same chatroom. Others, such as Discord, do not. Learn how to view the conversations as a threaded chat so no one gets confused.

Also, learn to tag specific readers. To tag, you usually just have to put an @ in front of their user name. You can use this function when you want to get the attention of someone specific. You should also set the chat room to send you notifications when you are tagged so you don't miss when someone wants to get your attention.

8. Avoid Using Foul, Offensive, and Bigoted Language

Human beings are no longer barbarians. Therefore, we don't need to bring a violent, offensive, and bigoted attitude into the chatrooms where we work. Honestly, everyone needs to learn this in all areas of life, but we will focus on the workplace aspect. We must wash away our old, outdated ideas when we use chat rooms to talk to coworkers.

Keeping up with current social expectations is a personal responsibility for every single human being. Be willing to see your own faults and understand it's ok to update your attitudes. Being violent, offensive, and bigoted might even cost you your job and lead you into legal trouble.

If you get fired for being cruel in an online chat room, there is proof, and you will not get unemployment. Plus, you might struggle to find employment in our modern world.

Communicating with coworkers in online chat rooms can be awesome.

Communicating with coworkers in online chat rooms can be awesome.

What to Do When You Feel Frustrated in Chat

Now you know the rules, but what do you do when you become frustrated in a workplace chatroom situation? You simply remove your hands from the keyboard and stop to calm down and think. If you are angry enough that you can't seem to keep your hands off the keyboard, then walk away.

Stop and think!

That is the beauty of being able to communicate with others in a chatroom. We can walk away and clear our minds before we respond. Responding when highly frustrated will only cause more trouble.

Think about if you can approach the person who frustrated you from a different angle. Try to use common ground to springboard into the differences and try to find a solution. You find the best solutions when you are calm.

If the person who frustrated you was violent, too aggressive, name-calling, or was being prejudiced, then report the conflict to a superior. Learn to take screenshots so you can prove your case.

If we all learn to combine our social-emotional mindset with our intellectual mindset we can create online work communities that improve workplace satisfaction. Now, get to chatting and own the room!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ruby Oliver