University of California, Riverside

Instant Messaging @ UCR

IM Etiquette

Although Instant Messaging is widely used in the United State and worldwide, it is seen most often in a casual, non-work environment. It is important to use IM tools at work in such a way as to maintain professionalism and efficiency. Below are some guidelines:

  • Content: Consider whether or not IM is the right communication method for your message. IM is great for quick questions, brief updates and other concise communication. If your message is long and/or complicated, perhaps a phone call, e-mail or an in-person visit makes more sense.
  • Tone: Don't use IM to deliver a negative message or news that carries a big impact. The use of IM in those situations will tend to trivialize an important communication.
  • Accountability: IM should not be used for contract negotiations, placing orders, making work assignments or anything else that may require some sort of paper trail in the future. For those types of communication, e-mail or paper letters are best.
  • Size: IM messages should be short and to-the-point; a few sentences, at most.
  • Availability: Every IM conversation should begin with an opening line to determine whether or not it is a good time for the recipient and to avoid interrupting another activity. A simple "is this a good time" would suffice.
  • Professionalism: Your IM conversations at work should limit the use of IM slang. Using GTG for "got to go" or IDK for "I don't know" may not be understood by some IM users and should therefore be avoided.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Instant Messaging @ UCR
Computing & Communications Building

Tel: (951) 827-4741
Fax: (951) 827-4541