5 Dos and Don’ts of Chatting in the Workplace

English For IT
English For IT
Published in
5 min readMay 5


Navigating (= dealing with) workplace conversations can be challenging, but when done right, it can foster (= create) strong relationships, boost productivity and contribute to your overall happiness at work.

There are certain nuances to keep in mind to ensure that your business conversations are appropriate and effective.

Do: Keep it Professional

Chatting is a different ballgame (= it’s a different thing) compared to writing emails. You usually need to write a message quickly and without relying on cliche stock phrases (= standard, commonly used phrases). However, even when Slack messaging someone, you need to remember to keep communication professional.

What does “professional” mean in the context of chatting?

Well, that usually means using semi-formal communication.

Semi-formal communication is a style of communication that is more relaxed than formal communication but more structured than informal communication. It’s concise and to the point (= focused on the topic) but friendly and casual at the same time.

Here are a few examples of semi-formal communication in chatting.

  • Hi Sarah, I wanted to follow up on the meeting we had earlier today. Can you please send me the notes you took? Thanks!
  • Good morning team, I hope you’re all doing well. Just a quick reminder that we have a deadline coming up for the project. Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
  • Hey John, I saw your email about the new product launch. It looks great! I have a few questions about the marketing plan. Can we chat later today?

Don’t: Don’t: Overuse Emojis or GIFs

While using emojis or GIFs can add some personality to your chat messages, overusing them can come across as (= look) unprofessional. Use them sparingly (= not too much) and only when appropriate.

Overuse of emojis:

Hi team! 😁👋 Just wanted to remind everyone that the deadline for the project is coming up soon! 📅💻🚀 Let’s all work together and get this done! 🤝💪🏼👍🏼

Appropriate use of emojis:

Hi team, just a friendly reminder that the deadline for the project is coming up soon. Let’s work together and get it done! 💪🏼

Do: Confirm Receipt of Important Messages

If you receive an important message, make sure to confirm receipt with a simple response such as “Received, thank you”. This shows that you are attentive and responsible.

Here are a few more examples of acknowledging that you’ve received a message.

  • “Thanks for sending this. Will review it soon.”
  • “Got it, thanks for letting me know.”
  • “Sure thing. Will look into it as soon as I can”
  • “Acknowledged, I’ll let you know if I have any questions.”
  • “Noted, I appreciate the heads up.”

Don’t: Ignore Messages

If you receive a message, make sure to respond in a timely manner. Ignoring messages can give the impression that you are not attentive or don’t care about the conversation.

Here are a few ways to respond:

“Hi Jane, thanks for your message. I am currently a bit tied up (= busy), but I want you to know that I received your message and will respond as soon as I can. I appreciate your patience.”

“Hey there, I got your message, but I’m swamped with (= very busy) work right now. I didn’t want to leave you hanging (= leave you without a response), so I just wanted to let you know that I’ll get back to you with a more detailed response as soon as possible.”

“Hi Jane, thanks for getting in touch. I’m in the middle of something right now, but I just wanted to acknowledge that I received your message. I’ll provide a more thorough (= detailed) response when I have a chance. Thanks for understanding!”

Do: Use Chat to Collaborate and Share Ideas

Chat can be a powerful tool for collaboration and idea sharing. Use chat to discuss projects, brainstorm ideas, and get feedback from colleagues. This can help you build better relationships with your colleagues and improve the quality of your work.

Consider limiting the amount of direct messages you send and instead make use of group channels. This will help you keep your teammates in the loop (= aware, updated) of what’s happening.

Don’t: Multitask

When you are in an important meeting or focusing on a specific task, chatting can be a distraction that takes away from (= reduces) your ability to give your full attention to the task at hand. Save your chatting for designated (= scheduled, established) break times and avoid the temptation to multitask during important meetings or work time.

Do: Apologize if Necessary

If you make a mistake or offend someone while chatting, it’s important to apologize. However, like saying “sorry” in English, a simple “I’m sorry” may not always be enough. Consider showing appreciation for the person who brought the mistake or issue to your attention, and let them know how you plan to fix the mistake.

For example, instead of saying “I’m sorry for sending the wrong file”, you could say “Thank you for bringing the issue to my attention. I will quickly fix the mistake and send the correct file right away”.

Don’t: Share Confidential Information

While chatting can be a great way to build relationships, it’s important to remember that certain information should not be shared over chat. Avoid sharing confidential (= sensitive, private) information or discussing sensitive topics over chat, as this could compromise (= endanger) your own security and that of your colleagues.

Do: Use Clear and Concise Language

Use simple and straightforward (= direct) language to communicate your ideas effectively.

For example:

  • Instead of saying “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to attend the meeting that you scheduled for Friday because I already have another commitment,” you could say “I can’t make the meeting on Friday because of a prior commitment.”
  • Instead of saying “The report that I have been working on is rather lengthy and contains a lot of data that may be difficult to understand,” you could say “The report is long and has complex data.”
  • Instead of saying “We are experiencing a temporary delay in the processing of your request due to a backlog of requests that we are currently working through,” you could say “We are currently working through a backlog of requests, so there may be a delay in processing your request.”

Don’t: Use all caps or excessive punctuation

Writing in all caps or using excessive punctuation can come across as unprofessional or aggressive.

Examples of using all caps:


Examples of using excessive punctuation:

  • What were you thinking??? This is completely unacceptable!
  • Thank you so much!!!! I really appreciate your help!!!!

If you want to learn more about effective semi-formal communication in the workplace, be sure to check out the English For IT: Communication course.



English For IT
English For IT

English and soft skills for tech professionals: www.english4it.online