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Rules to Better IM - 29 Rules

Whether you are chatting to a client on Teams or a friend on WeChat... These are the most common things that can improve your communication.

  1. No Hello - Do you ask the question straight away?

    Please don't say just 'Hello' in chat. It's as if you called someone on the phone and said "Hi!" and then put them on hold!

    When you do that, you're simply making the other person wait for you to phrase your question, which generates low productivity.

    Now that you've avoided just saying hello, if you're calling them, just be sure to give them a warning

    No Hello - Say Goodbye to Time Wasting with this Simple Productivity Trick | SSW Rules (6 min)

    The same goes for:

    "Hey, are you there?"

    --Waits for response before continuing--

    Bad example - Left waiting for a response

    "Hi Bob, do you have a sec?"

    Bad example - No context

    "Ping"

    Bad example - They're left waiting for you to ask a question

    Instead of doing this, just ask the question!

    "Hey, are you happy for me to publish the CTF Form?"

    Good example - You have given immediate context

    More info on nohello.net.

  2. Interruptions - Do you know that IM interrupts?

    When somebody sends you an IM message, they are interrupting you.

    When somebody sends you an email, they are not interrupting you - assuming you keep your notifications off as per Do you minimize your Outlook Distractions? You have made the decision to read your emails, so email is in actual fact far more polite than IM which can be a nuisance.

    IM is only to be used if they would like you to do something NOW.

    Tip: If someone pings you on IM (Teams / Skype) for non-urgent tasks, call the person out gently and let them know: "Since I don’t need to do this today, maybe an email would be better".

    focused developer
    Figure: Everybody wants to stay in the zone!

  3. Interruptions - Do you minimize Microsoft Teams distractions?

    Dealing with distractions is a fundamental rule to a successful project. Microsoft Teams is a great way to get distracted. Following these options helps you to minimize message distractions:

    1. Turn on at start-up - With the application always on your desktop, there is no reason for alerts to be sent to your email or phone
    2. Disable email alerts - this reduces bloat in your task list

    open teams settings
    Figure: Click the three dots | settings

    customize notification settings
    Figure: Click notifications | Customized

    only show feed
    Figure: Set settings to "Only show in feed" so distracting phone and email alerts aren't sent

    ensure teams always on
    Figure: Navigate to Settings | Apps | Startup | ensure Teams loads on startup

  4. Interruptions - Do you minimize Skype distractions?

    Dealing with distractions is a fundamental rule to a successful project. Skype is a great way to get distracted. Following these options helps you to minimize messaging/communication distractions:

    1. Set your status to Busy - people will think twice before messaging you
    2. Don't display an alert when a contact comes online or goes offline
    3. Don't play a sound when you receive an email. Remember - you do need a sound when you receive an IM in case you're not looking at your PC when it arrives.

    minimize skype distractions
    Figure: Minimize Skype alerts you receive

  5. Do you avoid sending unnecessary messages?

    Sending an unnecessary Instant Message is a distraction to the person you sent it to. As the 5 word rule on emails, if your message is less than 5 words, e.g. "Great work!" or "Thanks!", it's probably not required.

    Exceptions to this rule are when acknowledgement of the IM is required. We use IM in the office to notify that "John from F1 is on line 1." If the respondent doesn't say "OK - checking now" promptly we have to get up and go find them so John isn't left hanging on the line.

    Another way to give an acknowledgement of understanding is to just "like" the message.

  6. Do you know you can update or delete chat messages with mistakes?

    If you noticed the message you typed in Microsoft Teams has a mistake, make sure you edit it (or delete it if sent in error) so the recipient doesn't see the mistake.

    Screen Shot 2018 12 11 at 1 52 42 PM
    Figure: "Edit" and "Delete" are options after you type a message

  7. Do you notify others after updating a chat message?

    When updating an existing message in IM chats, others might see an indication of it, but won't get a notification, so it's important to inform them about your message changes.

    This simple practice promotes transparency, avoids confusion, and ensures everyone has the most current information. By keeping everyone in the loop, you foster clearer communication and enhance collaboration within the team.

    Note: If you're simply fixing a typo or making a minor edit that won't alter the meaning of your message, it's not necessary to notify others.

    update im message bad
    Figure: Bad example - Silently update a message

    update im message good
    Figure: Good example - Mention you updated a message

  8. Do you know that people misunderstand sarcasm in text?

    According to Sydney Morning Herald's "Flame emails missing the mark":

    "The senders of email messages expected their partners to correctly interpret their tone nearly 80% of the time, but in fact, they only scored just over 50%... Those attempting to interpret the message believed they had scored 90% accuracy".

    Because there is no "tone of voice" in an email, sarcasm can easily be misinterpreted by the receiver. You can use a smiley face or emoji to soften it up a bit.

    Bad example: This is bad because it may seem like John is being reprimanded, even though the sender may just be giving him a "heads up" for next time

    Good example: Be friendly by adding a greeting. When in doubt, use a smiley face at the end of the comment

  9. Interruptions - Do you investigate your question for 2 minutes before asking someone on IM?

    Always do a quick investigation before asking for help. When asking a question using IM, always start your conversation with "I have googled this and no luck".

    IM can interrupt a person when they are busy, so make sure that you are well prepared and have tried to find the solution another way first. AI tools like ChatGPT are another great option for getting unblocked before bothering someone.

    It's good practice to open your conversation with what investigation you have done. It will save the other person repeating work unnecessarily and is also a good prompt for you to do the initial investigation.

    lmgtfy
    Figure: Don't make someone else have to Google something for you

  10. Group calls - Do you minimize unrelated interruptions?

    Group calls are made for important discussions to be had, and distractions can derail them. Ever been in a group call where someone just vanishes? It's confusing and can mess up the flow of conversation.

    Here are the best ways to minimize distractions:

    Message 'BRB', 'I'm Back' or 'I have to go'

    If you have to get up for a minute, avoid interruptinons and keep things moving by simply messaging in the chat that you'll be right back and then when you've returned. The same if you need to leave the conversation - simply message that you have to go with the reason and without interrupting.

    Leaving the group call without letting anyone know.

    Figure: Bad example - Makes everyone pause and ask where you went

    Interrupting the flow of conversation to verbally tell everyone you have to leave.

    Figure: OK example - It's good to communicate, but still stops the chat for a bit

    Messaging in the group chat "brb in X mins" ... and then "I’m back" when you return.

    OR

    Messaging in the group chat "Sorry, I have to go guys - Dinner time"

    Figure: Good example - The call can continue smoothly and no one will be guessing where you went

    This way the conversation doesn't need to pause if you are taking a break; and no one has to stop and wonder where you went.

    Mute if someone comes to talk to you in person

    Another way to keep the group call smooth is to mute your mic if someone comes to talk to you in person. This avoids distracting background noise.

    Be mindful of people talking or other noises that might be registering into your microphone. It's OK to turn away for a minute, as long as you mute to keep the call free from random noise.

  11. Do you keep your questions easy to answer?

    Do you sometimes spend time answering unnecessarily complicated questions? This can be a pain and cost valuable time. Or, when you're asking someone a question about something that is blocking you, do you ever get frustrated when the person reads your message but doesn't reply? This can lead to a series of reminders and time spent chasing them up.

    Asking easy questions saves time for both the person asking and the person answering, and gets to the decision as quick as possible.

    Make your questions easy to respond to

    If you need an answer quickly, you should aim to make as easy as possible for the other person to respond. Where possible, avoid open ended questions as they take more time and effort to reply to. The easier it is for the other person to respond, the quicker and more effective your communication will be. Therefore, you should always aim for the simplest way you can phrase your question without losing the important points. Depending on your question, you should approach asking it differently - make sure that the way you ask the question matches the level of importance and complexity. Don't ask for a $10,000 purchase please with a Teams message!

    Yes or no

    This type of question is the easiest to answer. The clearest way to phrase it is with a 'y or n' at the end of your question.

    What do you think of this caption for our new video on Facebook?

    Figure: Bad example - open ended question

    Is this caption good for our new video on Facebook? Y or n?

    Figure: Good example - the other person knows immediately how to answer

    Tip: Don't feel like you are confining their reply - if they feel like they need to add more detail, they can!

    Simple questions

    For a simple question with multiple options, list the options and ask them to thumbs up 👍 their preferred one. That makes it as simple as possible to respond so you can even catch people who are extremely busy!

    bad question
    Figure: ❌ Bad example - The person might spend unnecessary time pondering and then typing a reply

    no hello
    Figure: ✅ Good example - The question and options are easy for a busy person to action

    Questions to a group

    When you anticipate many replies/votes to your question (e.g. in a group chat), use polls. In Microsoft Teams, use the 'Voting Table' Loop component. Polls help to reduce noise and easily analyze responses.

    voting loop
    Figure: How to add a Voting Table Loop component in Teams

    lunch choice bad
    Figure: Bad example - This will result in a confusing spam of messages

    lunch choice good
    Figure: Good example - This easily shows everybody's replies and is editable in real time

    When you need a paper trail

    If it will be important to have a record of your discussion, the best thing to do is call or have an in-person discussion. Once you have the answer, send an as per our conversation email to make sure both parties are clear on the result.

    purchase please bad
    Figure: Bad example - A small thumbs up can result in a big miscommunication

    purchase please good
    Figure: Good example - Having a live conversation and sending a follow up email makes sure there is no uncertainty

  12. Clarity - Do you answer IM questions in order?

    Sometimes people fire a few questions at you and the tendency is to answer in all kinds of ways that can make our signal to noise ratio poor.

    Tips when answering IMs:

    • Answer each question in order
    • Repeat the keywords of each question
    • Avoid grouping your messages together as per the rule

    - Gary: Welcome back from your holiday. How many items in your inbox? Can you give me the link for better IM rules? When is your next client work?

    - Dave: Next Monday Will work for Northwind. I have 85 items and the link is https://ssw.com.au/rules/rules-to-better-im

    Figure: Bad example - We must try to find the answers one by one

    ::: greybox- Gary:
    Welcome back from your holiday. How many items in your inbox? Can you give me the link for better IM rules? When is your next client work?

    - Dave:

    1. I have 85 items in my inbox
    2. Here is the link: https://ssw.com.au/rules/rules-to-better-im
    3. I start working for Northwind next Monday
      ::: ::: ok Figure: OK example - Each question answered in order :::

    - Gary: Welcome back from your holiday. How many items in your inbox? Can you give me the link for better IM rules? When is your next client work?

    - Dave: I have 85 items in my inbox

    - Dave:
    Here is the link: https://ssw.com.au/rules/rules-to-better-im

    - Dave:
    I start working for Northwind next Monday.

    Figure: Good example - Questions answered separately so that they can be responded to individually

  13. Do you answer with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for clarity before providing extra information?

    Always start your answer to a question with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ first, then follow that with your opinion and more details.

    Adam: Did you deploy that bug fix?

    George: We deployed 3 times yesterday and one of the deployments took ages and so we optimized the Azure DevOps pipeline, so now a database change has gone from 35 minutes to just 2 minutes to deploy. We’ll get all the remaining items resolved in the next few days.

    Bad example - We have to infer the answer... if it is there at all!

    George: No - we had issues, but we'll get that one done after lunch today. FYI we deployed 3 times yesterday and one of the deployments took ages and so we optimized the Azure DevOps pipeline, so now a database change has gone from 35 minutes to just 2 minutes to deploy.

    We’ll get all the remaining items resolved in the next few days.

    Good example - the question is answered clearly in the start

  14. Do you know important chats should be in an email?

    First of all, understand that IM is distracting so use it judiciously. However, IM is great when an email is unclear or you have an additional question about the email that is stopping you from sending a 'done'. IM is great for reminding people and is excellent to push the important things... especially for people who ignore emails!

    The golden rule is do not send a task on Teams (IM)!

    Dealing with external clients 

    During the course of an IM chat with a client or manager, an action or a piece of work may be required. It's highly important that such chats are copied from the chat and pasted into an email.

    For example:

    "As per our IM conversation, I will XXX." 

    When you copy and paste a IM conversation into an email remember the following:

    1. Who are you sending the email to? Is there any private information that should not be shared with the group?
    2. Have you asked for permission to copy the IM conversation into an email? The other party may not want to share it in an email
    3. Does the conversation add value to the email or can it be left out?
    4. If you decide to copy the conversation then make sure you edit it so it is easy to read and relevant

    Make it readable by snipping out just the important information and Cc relevant parties. (See rule on Snipping for more information).

    Dealing internally

    If you get an internal IM that should be an email, don't simply convert it into in an email as above - be a standard watchdog and let the other person know that they should send emails instead of instant messages:

    "Hi xxx, next time an email would have been less distracting.

    For things like this - that are clearly tasks, and require a 'done' - please send an email straight away as per ssw.com.au/rules/important-chats-should-be-in-an-email"

  15. Do you make the email readable by snipping and formatting the IM chat?

    Once you have decided to put an IM chat into an email or manager may suggest a course of action or a piece of work that they would like completed. It's highly important that such chats are copied from the chat screen, pasted into an email, and sent to the client or manager with a note: "Confirming our IM chat this morning", and CC'ing anyone else who is relevant. Don't just paste the whole conversation into an email.Snip the relevant information only. You can do this by:

    1. Deleting junk that is not related to the conversation
    2. Deleting repetitive junk that makes it hard to read (like peoples’ names)
    3. Adding a line break between people and highlighting the person's name in bold

    Bad Example of IM snip
    Figure: Bad example - this IM snip has a lot of unnecessary text that makes it hard to read

    Good Example of IM snip
    Figure: Good example - snipped and formatted

  16. Clarity - Do you make the communication more efficient by referring back to a subject of an email?

    Use IM to chase up that important email. You can make it easy for everyone (or at least give them the context of your questions) by pasting the email subject.

    I sent you an email just now, please approve

    Figure: Bad example - client need to filter his emails manually

    I need you to reply to my email... Subject: CBA Software Audit

    Figure: Good example - client can search your email based on the subject

    Tip: Use text formatting

    To make your messages more visually appealing, you can use "> {{ MESSAGE }}" in Microsoft Teams chats to highlight your message as a quote. This works particularly well when you want to refer to an email subject, i.e:

    good example   use formatting
    Figure: Good example - Mentioning an email using the "> {{ MESSAGE }}" formatting

  17. Do you close off a message thread?

    When handling email threads within instant messaging (IM), adding a "Done - see email {{ SUBJECT }}" a clear and concise way to close off a thread.

    done see email
    Figure: Closing off a conversation on Microsoft Teams

    Benefits of using this method

    • Clarity and efficiency - "Done - see email" offers clarity by indicating that an email-related task has been completed. This concise signal minimizes unnecessary back-and-forth, allowing you to focus on more critical matters.
    • Reducing IM clutter - In busy work environments, IM platforms can become crowded. Closing email discussions with "Done - see email" declutters your IM threads, making it easier to manage conversations.
    • Record Keeping - This phrase helps maintain a record of actions taken. It serves as a timestamped reference point for future discussions, aiding in task recall.

    Using "Done - see email" wisely

    • Employ it when a task related to an email is complete
    • Specify action details in the email if necessary
    • Summarize key points in complex email threads

    Close off a thread by "Done - see email" in IM to streamline conversations, reduce overload, and maintain organized records, ultimately improving productivity.

    Note: The phrase "see email" can be adapted to various contexts, such as "see attached document", "refer to the shared link", or "check the updated project board," depending on the specific details or resources relevant to the conversation's resolution.

  18. Do you break messages to facilitate responses?

    When messaging someone, it's often tempting to send a big block of text. This can make your thoughts difficult to respond to, especially if there are unrelated subjects. Instead, you should split your thoughts into several individual messages, separated by subject.

    Why separate messages?

    Breaking messages ensures that each segment is clear and distinct, avoiding confusion and promoting a better understanding of individual points. It encourages recipients to respond or interact to specific points or questions, fostering more focused and efficient communication.

    separate messages bad
    Figure: Bad example - This message contains many different subjects! It's informative, but hard to respond to

    separate messages good
    Figure: Good example - Here, each message is separate, making them individually available for responses

    Note: When responding to these messages, you should respond to each point in order.

  19. Do you keep a history of your IM conversations?

    IM conversations often can be as important as emails, if not more so, because they are usually only used for high priority issues or issues that need to be resolved now. Therefore, it is very important to keep history of all your IM conversations. They can often be used as a reference point, or as a digital log of all the important issues that have been discussed. In fact, you can be guaranteed that you will want to revisit something you have discussed before with other employees.

    save skype conversation history forever
    Figure: You can find the option to save your conversation history in your Skype options under IM & SMS | IM Settings

    Once this option is turned on, Skype will keep the last 3 months of your conversation history in the app - just scroll up to see older conversations. For conversations older than 3 months, the conversations are saved in a file called main.db in your Skype folder. The location of this folder depends on your OS and which version of Skype you are running. Visit the Skype FAQ to find out more.

    The only exception to this rule of course is when you're using a public computer, in which case privacy and security issues arise by keeping IM history on that computer.

  20. Do you know replying is better late than never?

    You should always try and reply to emails and IM messages within a timely period, but this is not always possible.

    Sometimes people see a 6-month old task/question, and just delete/ignore thinking it's "too old"... or because "the customer will think we're a joke taking this long to do something!" No matter how long it takes to do some tasks, it's always better to get it done.

    Of course, there are tasks that can be irrelevant with the passage of time. You should still reply and state that you don't believe it is needed anymore.

    Always reply to emails and IM messages regardless of how long it takes to respond. It shows you value the sender's input and they'll know their ideas and suggestions are not ignored.

    delete outlook message button
    Figure: Bad example - Hitting the 'Delete' button without replying

    no reply
    Figure: Bad example - A chat with no answer

    Hi Bob,

    Sorry for the late reply

    Done

    Figure: Good example - Getting an old task done

    Hi Bob,

    This is an old one. I tried to call you but you were not available. This still looks relevant so I will start this old task today or tomorrow

    1. Please let me know if you don't want that

    Figure: Good example - Asking if an old task is still wanted

    Hi Bob,

    I assume this is too late now. Sorry I missed this one

    Figure: Good example - Informing a task is not relevant anymore

    Hi Bob,

    Cleaning my inbox... Checked and this task was already done a few months ago

    Figure: Good example - Informing a task was already done

  21. Do you know when to create a group chat?

    If you intend to talk about someone in your chat, it's best to add that person to a group chat.

    This approach is useful before starting a Teams call and you can simply say "I'll call you in 5 mins" in your group chat to let everyone in the group know that you need to chat with them.

    Note that you shouldn't make the call if all of the participants have Teams status "In a call" or their status message suggests they shouldn't be disturbed.

    group chat bad example
    Figure: Bad example - Mentioning someone in a chat they are not participating

    group chat good example
    Figure: Good example - Initiating a group chat with everyone involved

    Figure: Bad example - Not a good time to call Adam and William as they're both "in a call"

    good status
    Figure: Good example - It's a good time to call Bryden and Lachie as they're both available

    Tip: When deciding whether to use a group chat, think of how you'd approach the same conversation in an email - if you'd cc someone in the email, then you should include them in the group chat.

  22. Do you know when to send an email, a chat message, call, or organize a meeting?

    When deciding whether to send a chat message, call, or organize a meeting in Microsoft Teams, or send an email, there are a few factors to consider:

    • Urgency and Importance: If the matter is urgent or time-sensitive, it may be best to initiate a call or send a chat message, as these options typically allow for faster response times than email. If you can’t get hold of them, send a message with the prefix “blocked” to ensure the other person knows that you can’t proceed without them. On the other hand, if the matter is not urgent, sending an email may be sufficient
    • Complexity: If the issue or topic is complex and requires a more in-depth discussion or collaboration, it may be better to call or organize a meeting in Teams rather than relying on chat or email
    • Number of people involved: If there are multiple people involved, it may be better to organize a meeting, especially if a group discussion or decision-making process is necessary. Chat and email can be suitable for one-on-one discussions or when the number of people involved is small
    • Availability and accessibility: If you need to communicate with someone who is not currently available in Teams, you may need to send an email instead
    • Task: If there is a task that you need to be able to track and follow up, always send an email, since the transient nature of chats and calls make tasks easily forgotten

    Hi Matt,

    I tried to call you regarding the Northwind Traders Ltd project but you were unavailable - will try again soon.

    Figure: Bad example - No sign of urgency in the message

    ::: greyboxHi Matt,

    ❌ Blocked - I need your approval to keep working on the Northwind Traders Ltd project.

    1. Please call me ASAP. ::: ::: good Figure: Good example – The "❌ Blocked" makes it clear that this is urgent. Similar to if you were to say "❌ Blocked" in a Daily Scrum :::

    In general, Teams is designed for real-time collaboration and communication, while email is better suited for asynchronous communication. Therefore, if you need to discuss something quickly or want to work collaboratively on a project, using Teams may be more appropriate. If, however, you need to communicate a more formal or official message, or want to provide detailed information that can be referenced later, an email may be more appropriate.

  23. Communication - Do you go beyond text chat and do professional video calls?

    Communication can be difficult (even if English is your first language!). When using Teams/Zoom/Skype, it might be tempting to only chat via text in IM, but this will not improve your skills or build a relationship as well as communicating verbally.

    skype conference
    Figure: Good example - Asking _"Can I call you?"_ (especially for complicated conversations)

    Tips to have a better call

    Try to always answer the call with video (if weak bandwidth, use it for the first 10 seconds and say "I'll turn off video to save bandwidth").

    Sound

    • Be ready with the headset already on (it looks disorganized setting it up after you are on the call)
    • Check the sound quality of the microphone - you need a good mic and it should be close to your mouth - if you are using the laptop mic, sit in close

    Video

    • Check the image quality of the camera
    • Beware of the angle of the camera - laptops with thin bezels now put the camera at the base, looking up your nose. Avoid them. Frame your head and shoulders in the shot, and keep the camera lens at or above eye level - use a stand if necessary

      screen stands
      Figure: Height-adjustable monitor and laptop stand

    • Get your video background right

      Bad Video Background orgn
      Figure: Bad example - Ugly background showing an air conditioner

      Good Video Background orgn
      Figure: Good Example - Nice background

    • Keep a light source on your face, and try to avoid sitting with a window behind you
    • Have a microfiber cloth and wipe off the lens from time to time

    Text

    • It's always helpful to confirm things you're talking about with typed text during the call (especially helpful for people with English as a second language).

    For more info, see how to look and sound great online

    Tip: Help the other person with following this rule by taking a screenshot of a call with them, then give a mark /10 with good and bad feedback. E.g. Sound/video quality, background.

  24. Do you always reply to tasks/questions in the same medium?

    Consistency is key in communication. Always reply to tasks or questions in the same medium they were sent. It's all about showing courtesy, avoiding confusion, and keeping things running smoothly.

    When someone messages you on a specific platform, it's because they chose that medium for a reason. Keeping the conversation in one place makes it easier to refer back to previous messages and stay on the same page. It's a straightforward way to keep things clear and minimize hiccups.

    So, next time you get an IM or an email, remember to reply in the same platform - it's a simple yet effective way to keep the conversation flowing smoothly.

    Tip: When you receive a question on IM (direct chat or @mention in a group chat), make an effort to respond promptly, even if you don't have an immediate solution. Simply acknowledging the other person's concern goes a long way in maintaining effective communication.

    Replying to multiple mediums

    If someone chases you up on IM about an email... when you finish the task you should reply on both mediums. E.g. "Done - see email"

    If someone sends an email that you converted to a PBI, you should reply to the email with the PBI link, so everyone knows where to follow up.

  25. Calling - Do you call instead of IM when communication is not simple?

    When you realize the communication is not simple and there it is going to take much back and forth IMs, say "Can I call?" and continue the conversation through voice.

    Communication using voice is much faster than typing a message and it can clear misunderstandings. Encourage people to switch to voice if possible.

    Example:

    Scott:  Did you say to me, you would contact Tiago on Skype to do it collaboratively... rather than email?

    Dave:  I agreed I'll contact them over Skype as suggested by Drew

    Scott:  Isn't that what I just said? (and you said you were sending emails)

    Dave:  Hold on... I don't understand you anymore, can we switch to voice?

    Then follow Do you send "As Per Our Conversation" emails?

  26. Calling - Do you warn then call?

    It can be very jarring when somebody is called out of the blue and they are not expecting it. They might be deep in a task or talking to a client and by calling them their focus is getting disrupted.

    Before calling someone, be sure not to just say 'hello'.

    A good way to initiate a call is to warm them up by giving a warning (e.g. “Calling you in 1 min to talk about the Northwind production site being down 💀.”).

    Warm Calling: Give a warning, then call.
    Hot Calling: There's no need to give a warning, as the person you are calling is expecting your pre-arranged call.

    The benefits of a warm call

    • Prioritization - The other person can see what the call is about and can determine if it is a priority. For example, if you mention that you want to talk about an email from several years ago, they might think it isn't that important. Conversely, if you mention the production server is down, they will almost definitely answer you!
    • Consideration - It gives the other person the time to prepare. They might be busy or in another call
    • Easier Responses - It puts you into their chat history, so even if they decline the call, they can easily write back to you to explain why
    • Availability - Giving someone even a 1 minute warning is a good idea even if you see their Teams Status is on green ‘available’. Remember it is not easy to always change their status to ‘busy’ - they could be on a mobile phone, on a WhatsApp call, in a physical meeting, etc

    Warning: First check the persons Teams status is not "Do not Disturb", "Presenting", or "On a call" make sure not to call them unless it's an emergency.

    team status 1
    Figure: Check their status first

    If the conversation has history, like a PBI/Issue or email, then it's important to include the context.

    Calling in 1 minute. See the PBI/Issue:

    {{ URL }}

    Good example - Includes PBI/Issue link for reference and doesn't leave anyone waiting

    Tip: For the example above, PBIs often have long URLs. Include a line break for better readability.

    Calling in 1 minute about this email thread:

    {{ EMAIL SUBJECT }}

    Good example - Includes email subject for reference and doesn't leave anyone waiting

    Using Outlook | Share to Teams

    Outlook can do some of the heavy lifting for you! You can directly paste an email into a teams message with one click.

    share to teams outlook button
    Figure: In Outlook | Share to Teams

    share to teams
    Figure: Good example - Includes a task, and gives context by sharing the email to a teams chat using Outlook | Share to Teams

    What if your call is declined?

    When a call is declined, it is important to follow up in order to ensure the task remains a priority and does not get forgotten.

    "Tried to call - will try again in 1 hour"

    Good example - Send them a message indicating you will try again later

    Tip: The follow-up effectively rule will help you remember to call.

  27. Display - Do you set your display picture using a good photographic image of yourself?

    In person conversations are much better than chats over the phone. Skype or Teams calls with video cams are great, but you won’t do that all the time for bandwidth and processing power reasons. The next best thing is to have a great professional picture of yourself.

    • Avoid using a built-in image
    • Ideally, have a photo that shows head and top of shoulders close up. Not too far away
    • Your face must not be obstructed with other objects or excessive head cover (e.g. ski mask)
    • Not blurred, pixelated, washed out or over-exposed image. You should be recognizable in your high quality picture
    • An actual photo of yourself. Not a cartoon, objects or family member(s)

    Bad Skype profile image default
    Bad profile image - using default image

    Bad Skype profile image too far away
    Bad profile image - picture taken from too far away

    Good Skype profile image
    Good profile image

  28. Display - Do you use your company name and location as part of your display name?

    Using your company name as part of your Display Name has the double advantage of firstly branding, and secondly, indicating to other parties that your IM account is for work purposes.

    display your company name
    Figure: Display your company name and location

    Be aware that while you can change your display name, Skype doesn't allow you to rename the account... So use your full name. If you just use "Peter", then people can't distinguish you from the 3 other Peters they have.

    Tip: If you travel around people often will ask you "Where are you?" You can avoid this by putting the square brackets where you currently are. E.g. [SSW Brisbane] or [Cisco Melbourne]

  29. Display - Do you use your personal message to share good news with your contacts?

    Your personal message can be used to promote good news stories of recent work you have done.

    Especially when you have many clients added as IM contacts, what better group of people to share the good news with?

    Your personal message should be simple, to the point, and make sure you change it at least once a month!

    Use your Persona  Message to share good news
    Figure: Use your Personal Message to share the good news

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