Slack is an exciting and effective communication tool, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used inappropriately. With more than 4 million daily users, odds are you have come into contact with Slack at some point, or will in the not-so-distant future. Teams of all sizes are finding Slack a great way to improve communication while reducing email clutter. However, some users may not be following the unwritten rules of Slack. If you want to avoid Slack faux pas, read on to learn what not to do on the messaging platform.
1. Sending notifications at all hours
One great feature of Slack is the ability to use the app on your computer or your smartphone, but that means your team may always have Slack turned on in their pocket. This is great for urgent communications around the clock and keeping up to speed when out of the office, but it has a big downside as well.
When users send you an @ message, direct message, or any other type of notification, their phone could beep or buzz any hour of the day. To avoid waking up coworkers who go to bed early or annoying a late sleeper with an early morning wake up, try to keep notifications to urgent messages and regular business hours for your team.
2. Using @everyone for messages not relevant to everyone
The @everyone and @here tags are useful for sending a notification to all members of a channel or everyone currently active in a channel, but that doesn’t mean you should use it regularly. In most cases, you probably don’t need to send a notification to everyone’s phones and computers for a non-urgent message.
If something is relevant and time-sensitive to everyone in the channel, don’t feel bad using the tags. For example, a last-minute meeting cancellation is something to tell everyone about quickly. If it is not so urgent, just post a regular message without the @everyone tag.
3. Distracting posts in the wrong channel
New Slack teams get a #random channel automatically. Use this channel, or a similarly designated #watercooler, for fun posts and news posts. Keeping everything random in the #random channel helps coworkers avoid distraction when they are in the middle of actual work.
That hilarious or interesting article or video may be great for your team, but you don’t want to derail a productive afternoon with cat videos or an interesting read. Stick that in the appropriate channel to help your team stay on task.
4. Ignoring an existing Slack culture
You may have months or years of experience on Slack and know every feature, trick, and tip for an efficient Slack experience, but that doesn’t mean you know the Slack culture of your new team.
When you are added to a new Slack organization, don’t rush out and start posting a ton and chatting with everyone, even if that’s how you’ve used Slack in the past. Instead, start by scrolling back into the team’s history to find out how they use Slack. Don’t push your ideal Slack on an existing culture. Find a way to blend into how your new team already uses the platform.
5. Treating it like social media
Slack is a great way to communicate, but it is not Facebook. It is not Twitter. It is not Instagram. It is not any other social network. Slack is a work focused communication tool. Use it as such.
Unless you work in a culinary profession, you shouldn’t post pictures of your lunch. The types of chats you have with friends on Facebook Messenger should stay on Facebook, not Slack. Keep your Slack usage focused on work-related topics and you don’t have anything to worry about.
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6. Criticizing publicly
I once listened in as a boss tore into a coworker on a conference call in a completely inappropriate way. He publicly humiliated and criticized her in an unnecessary time and place. Just like a conference call, you should keep criticism off of public Slack channels.
Like with IRL (in real life) discussions, keep criticism private. However, it is okay to praise on Slack for a job well done. If you have to deliver a negative message on Slack, do so with a direct message. Even better, get on the phone or meet in person for a one-on-one discussion. It is surprising to hear, but that smartphone is still useful for phone calls every once in a while.
7. Putting direct messages in a public channel
Speaking of keeping negative messages out of the public eye on Slack, there are many conversations that belong in direct messages and out of public channels. If you are working on something relevant to more than just two people, there is good reason to use a channel that everyone can access. But mundane details that are only relevant for two people should stay between those two people.
It’s not that you need to hide mundane details from others, the idea is to keep the clutter out of the channel so users can jump in and find what they need quickly. If you stuff a channel full of boring, one-on-one conversations, the channel becomes less useful for everyone involved.
8. Using text message slang
Slack isn’t a text with your eleven-year-old niece. Use proper grammar and spelling. If your messages look like this, it’s probably time for a lesson in professional communication:
“LOL! U R so ridic right now. LMAO.”
You don’t have to treat Slack communication with the same formality as email. You don’t need to be formal, but treat Slack communication like work. If you wouldn’t want it to show up in a company newsletter or blog post, you shouldn’t write it on Slack. Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation to ensure you look like a pro and everyone can easily decipher what you are saying. Remember, not everyone knows or cares what abbreviations and shorthand like fam, bae, or obvi means, so don’t use them on Slack. AFAIK, you should keep that kind of slang for messaging with friends when you are AFK from work, FWIW.
9. Using Slack as a crutch for better communication
It’s no secret that Millennials hate phone calls. Some even go so far as to use their phone to get out of real life conversation. However, if you care about your career you should shake off the notion that you can’t talk to someone on the phone or in person because you have a text based option with Slack.
Don’t be afraid to talk in person. It is a good skill for your life. It helps with your work, dating, friend, and family relationships. It is easy to use your phone and text communication as a crutch, but break free and use your voice. That is the best way to build true, lasting personal relationships. Slack is great for efficiency and communication, but it is not a replacement for human conversation.
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