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Messaging courtesies
by Satya Prakash
Issue 16
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The past few years has seen revolutionary penetration of broadband. Today most of us have high speed internet access. This has brought about radical changes in the way we communicate and is often called the ‘new age’ communication methods. No one would disagree with the above assessment. But there is more to it.

Has this ‘new age’ of communication also changed the basic courtesy involved? To me it hasn’t, others may disagree. I have tried to collate the basic courtesies of communication to this ‘new age’ way. I am not talking about emails but about those online messengers or Instant messengers (IMs) or chat applications. Most of the people these days are courteous on emails but are they on instant messaging (IMs)? I don’t think so.

1. One should not leave the ‘chat’ midway without explicitly telling so. More than anything else it shows ‘contempt’ towards the other person. It does not require much of effort to tell that you have to leave the chat. Well, there could be other unavoidable reasons. The net might disconnect, power switched off, computer crashed, etc. Even then one could pass a message, saying something happened for that abrupt termination after coming online again.

2. It irritates the other person if he/she gets the reply after a long delay, each time. The other person might be waiting and waiting. Thought one should not do ‘multi tasking’ while instant messaging, it is courteous to mention that you are doing some other work alongside, and would be slow in replying. And “my typing speed is less” is a lame excuse.

3. Many times people just leave some important message as offline communication. They unilaterally assume that everyone checks their instant messenger just every day. This is not always the case. Email should be used for important messages.

4. I think it is courteous to ask before chatting whether the person is free to chat? Don’t we do it when we call someone? So why not in IMs? An online status does not always mean ‘free to chat’ status (unless the person is close one). Related to this: one should use those status messages which say ‘busy’ or ‘away’, etc.

5. This is more with those internet instant messengers. Now days almost all have the ‘call’ functionality. However again, one should always ask before calling. The other person might not be in a convenient moment to talk.

6. The modern ‘text message lingo’ or ‘cool English’ (as they say), should be used only if both the parties are comfortable with it.

7. Instant messengers should not be used for playing ‘mind games’.

8. Instant messengers have a limitation in the sense that your body language is not evident. So one should take care, lest messages might be interpreted just the opposite.

9. As with any written communication, chat transcripts are also documents. So take care.

10. If you are messaging someone unknown, then please identify yourself at the onset.

11. If you send an email for asking someone to come online and chat, it would be highly helpful if you mention in a line what will be the agenda of chat?

12. Use the word processing tools available for clarity in communication like bold, italics, etc.

13. It is inherently assumed that there are only two people in an instant messaging session. If there are more than this then please explicitly mention it.

14. Please take care of time zones.

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