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7 Gchat Etiquette Tips Every Lawyer Should Know

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 13, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to Gchat etiquette, it can often feel like a free-for-all. But there are a few ground rules you should keep in mind before you ping someone at work.

First, before you even start chatting, you'll probably want to have a photo. If you must use a selfie, zoom in and make the frame tight on the face so it's more professional looking -- oh, and make sure you have clothes on.

With that tip out of the way, here are seven more tips for good Gchat etiquette:

  1. Don't always stay "green." If you're not actually available to chat, don't show up online as "green," meaning "Available." It sends your colleagues the wrong message.
  2. Don't always set your status to "Busy" or "Away." The flipside of always showing up as eternally green is always looking busy. It's like the boy who cried wolf. After awhile, people are going to message you regardless of the color, and when you really are busy, no one will believe you. A barrage of IMs will likely soon follow.
  3. Respond in a timely manner. Don't be that person who always takes forever to respond to an IM. It's inevitable from time to time, but don't make a habit of it. Even if you're genuinely tending to pressing matters, it makes you look rude and inconsiderate.
  4. Don't adopt emoticons as your primary language. There's an art to using smileys in the workplace. But if you go overboard with sentences punctuated with happy faces and other creative emoticons, then you may run the risk of your message getting lost in emoji-translation. At best, you'll seem personable. At worst, you'll come across as someone not worth taking seriously.
  5. Send links sparingly. Sometimes a link to the perfect meme is the best way to diffuse a tense situation or share a fun bonding moment. Other times, they're just annoying and come across as well-meaning spam. Send fun links to colleagues sparingly.
  6. Use exclamation points wisely. Don't punctuate every sentence with an exclamation point! Pepper it throughout your conversation (so that you don't "sound" monotone), but don't use it every time!! Also, remember that exclamation points don't give you the right to write too casually and not check your spelling! Alas, you're on Gchat -- but you're working!
  7. Go invisible. If you need to buckle down and focus on work but need to talk to one person in particular, go into "Invisible" mode. It's also the easiest way to avoid a faux pas or two above.

Of course, these aren't hard and fast rules -- but they're a start to practicing good biz etiquette in the wild wonderful world (WWW!) of Gchat.

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