"If you think business and manners don’t mix, try talking with your mouth full.” - Diane Gottsman, Modern Manners & Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Resource

Slack Etiquette

August 15th, 2017 by

Dear Diane,

My company just started using Slack and I’m having all sorts of anxiety! I’m learning how to use it technically but the etiquette seems really fuzzy. I’m not sure what the protocol is for communicating on Slack. Do you have any advice for me?

Thanks in advance,
Heather W.

Slack Etiquette

Dear Heather,

As technology changes at lightning speed it can be difficult to keep up with the etiquette and expectations. Slack is quickly taking over as the go-to business communication platform and it comes with its own set of unspoken rules and best practices. Add in the fact that typically the entire company is connected via Slack—meaning you could end up offending your boss—and you have the potential for a business disaster. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to Slack etiquette.

Don’t Get Too Casual

Slack is great for communicating with your team but keep in mind a dancing girl emoji might not be the best way to respond to the CEO. Keep it professional, use proper grammar and punctuation, and use emojis in the appropriate context. Avoid slang terms which don’t seem to fit the conversation. It also goes without say, but I will say it anyways …remember to keep the jokes G rated.

Do Respect Slack Statuses

If a co-worker’s status is set to “on vacation” or “with my family,” consider waiting to send a message which will ping their phone. If you the communication is an emergency, choose an alternate platform or make a call. If you are sending because you don’t want to forget, start your message with, “Read when you get back to the office—enjoy your vacation!”

Don’t Fill Everyone’s Notifications

When you’re responding to a co-worker, don’t use @channel to notify everyone in the channel. Use the feature only when necessary. It will give your messages more impact when you need to get everyone’s attention. Understand Slack’s features before you use them. You can tag @here to notify only users who are active on Slack instead of @channel as well.

Do “Read the Room”

It’s easy to tell what kind of tone is appropriate for your particular workplace by reading through a channel. If the regional vice president is cracking jokes and responding with monkey emojis, you can be comfortable with using emojis. If she’s more conservative, respond in kind. Your supervisor and managers always set the tone.

Don’t Get Lazy

Slack makes it simple and fast to communicate, but it’s not a free pass for lazy communication. If your boss asks, “How is Thursday’s big presentation coming along?”, you should respond with more than a thumbs up emoji.

Do Start a Thread When Appropriate

Don’t muddy channels with side conversations. Start a specific thread by responding directly to someone within a channel when necessary—or better yet, send a direct message when needed. This is particularly important if you have a potentially uncomfortable message. If it is serious, pick up the phone instead or shoot them an email requesting a conversation.

Do Snooze Notifications

Use Slack’s snooze feature to turn your notifications off on nights and weekends. Your friends and family will appreciate not hearing the “ding” of Slack messages from your phone all evening. Courtesy is still key.

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