Private messaging etiquette- Tips for professionals

Private messaging has become an indispensable communication tool for professionals in the digital age. Platforms like email, instant messaging and private allow for quick and targeted conversations between coworkers, clients, and business partners. However, the informal nature of private messages sometimes leads to confusion, miscommunications, and even damage to professional relationships or reputations if not handled carefully. Write private messages to colleagues and clients with the same level of care and etiquette as you would an email. Use proper capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and complete sentences. Don’t use shorthand unless you know the recipient uses and understands those terms. And don’t get overly chatty or personal – keep the focus on business.

Be clear and concise

Private messaging lends itself to brevity. Be as clear and concise as possible in stating your purpose and main points. Get straight to the matter at hand without lengthy introductions or straying off topic. It shows respect for the recipient’s time and attention. For involved matters, let the recipient know you’d like to schedule a call or meeting for a fuller discussion. Avoid long blocks of text that are difficult to read on mobile devices. Break up key info into readable paragraphs.

Mind your tone

Without visual and audio cues, written messages leave a lot of room for misinterpretation of tone. Err on the side of formality rather than humor or sarcasm, which easily be taken the wrong way. Be positive and respectful. Don’t use all caps or excessive exclamation points even if you feel excited or passionate about your message – it comes across as aggressive. If you need to convey important or complex emotional information, do it in person or at least via phone or video chat.

Keep it Private

While private messaging may feel more secure than other communication channels, remember that permanent digital records often exist. Be thoughtful about what details you include in any written message with negative comments about clients, colleagues, or competitors that could reflect poorly on you or your company if seen by others. And take care to share proprietary information over messaging channels that aren’t company-approved and encrypted. how to private message? If you need to communicate about confidential matters, first verify if a more secure method is required.

Manage expectations

While instant messaging implies real-time communication, don’t assume that every professional contact is always available to chat. Set expectations by indicating in your auto-reply message when you typically check messages. For example: “I check messages every morning by 10 am ET and respond by the end of the day.” If waiting for a reply, don’t inundate contacts with repeated messages demanding immediate answers unless there’s a true emergency. Be patient.

Be Forgiving

The matter how careful you try to be, people will always commit private messaging faux pas at times. Try to be understanding when others make or seem rude in a message. Assume good intent, and resist reacting harshly. If the matter demands further discussion, wait until you’re calm to address it effectively. I have been on both sides of well-meaning messages that missed the mark or were incorrect. Offer others the same gracious patience you’d want in return.

News Reporter