8 Things You Should Never Write in Slack, According to Pros
Use these etiquette tips at work.
One platform largely considered a pioneer in this space is Slack. A messaging app for businesses that connects people to the people and information they need, Slack has helped transform the way that organizations communicate.
Having made headlines as the fastest-growing SaaS (software as a service) start-up in history in 2021, Slack recorded over 12 million daily active users. And with a desire to make work life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive, all signs point to it staying around for a long time.
However, as with most things, there’s etiquette to follow when it comes to using Slack. Unsure of what the rules are? We’re here to help. Enlisting the help of two esteemed experts, we spoke to both Christina Janzer, Slack’s Senior Vice President of Research and Analytics, and Ami Jones, Director of Aible Workplace Health and HR Solutions, for their tips on the things you should never write in Slack.
1. Don’t use jargony language.
Janzer’s first tip is to ensure your language is accessible. Earlier this year, Slack conducted a survey that found that that “63% of workers find it off-putting when colleagues use workplace jargon in messages while communicating with them,” says Janzer. “Terms like ‘ASAP,’ ‘keep me in the loop,’ ‘team player,’ ‘give 110 percent’ and ‘just checking in’ were seen as particularly overused and bothersome.”
While it’s a custom most of us are guilty of at times — indeed, 89% of those surveyed said they used workplace jargon to sound more professional — it’s best to avoid it when possible.
Janzer also noted that 7 out of 10 workers reported they prefer when co-workers are candid, and this is particularly true of millennials and Gen Z. Remember to use clear language when communicating with co-workers via Slack or email.
2. Don’t spam your co-workers by using @here when it’s not necessary.
Spam is never something we want to be on the receiving end of, particularly when at work. It’s important to remember this when using Slack. “You can easily get people’s attention by @mentioning someone or using wider pings like @channel and @here. We’d recommend using the latter two sparingly, saved for situations where you’re updating your entire team or need everyone to be aware of the information,” says Janzer.
She notes that constantly using @here or @channel will only distract your team from their tasks — and it may cause enough annoyance for them to start ignoring your pings.
Respecting your colleagues’ time and only getting in touch when necessary will help foster valued relationships between you and your colleagues — which can only be a good thing in the workplace.
3. Don’t ask for what you can find on your own using the search bar.
Make friends with Slack’s search bar tool to ensure that you’re not asking your colleagues unnecessary questions.
Janzer suggests using it to “narrow down your search by channel, who sent the message, when it was sent, and look through the files shared in a workspace.”
As with all new technologies, it might take a bit of time and practice to get your head around but doing so will save both you and your colleagues time.
“Once you’ve exhausted that option, you’ll know you did your due diligence and can suggest hosting important information in an easier-to-find location, like a pinned message or a Slack canvas,” says Janzer.
4. Don’t send a direct message that just says “hey” or “hello.”
While common practice on a platform like iMessage or WhatsApp, avoid one-worded greetings on Slack. “One habit we’ve found can be unpleasant for people is when their colleagues start conversations with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’ and add no other content,” says Janzer.
“The recipient will get a notification on that first ‘Hi’ which often leads to distraction as they wait for the rest of the message to come through. They could be focused on a project or participating in a call, and the unnecessary ping could knock them off their train of thought.”
Before firing off a series of messages, stop and assess what it is you need from your colleague. Janzer’s advice is to type out your full request before clicking send. That way, your colleagues can skim the content to decide if it’s urgent or something that can wait.
By limiting how often you contact your co-workers, you’re not only showing respect for their time, but you’re also ensuring a streamlined way of communicating, which is crucial to the running of a happy and efficient workplace.
5. Don’t send insurmountable walls of text.
While one-worded greetings can be something of an annoyance, so can walls of text. Make your communication succinct and straight to the point.
“Avoid posting a massive wall of text when sharing announcements or critical updates. Instead, make the message easier to read by using emojis, bullets, and bold or italic text styling to make your titles and key points stand out in longer messages,” says Janzer.
“Well-formatted messages make the text easier to scan and help minimize follow-up questions and messages as the key takeaways or important action items aren’t lost in lengthy paragraphs.”
But, while emojis can be a great way of breaking up text, Janzer suggests keeping them to a minimum, otherwise, your message looks too busy. Emojis can be a fun way to add personality to a message, but they aren’t a replacement for text.
6. Don’t have lengthy conversations.
While it can be tempting to discuss non-work related matters in the office, try to avoid doing so on Slack, Jone advises.
“Slack is an online reflection of your company’s existing culture, where your team can come to discuss ideas, share opinions, and provide feedback in a more relaxed manner compared to email,” she says.
Informal conversations can distract from the topic at hand and even cause tension between colleagues who are trying to concentrate on other tasks.
7. Don’t write complaints or anything unprofessional.
Ever considered voicing a complaint on Slack to avoid a face-to-face confrontation? Think again, Jones suggests.
In order to avoid sticky situations, she recommends avoiding complaints about team members or aspects of your job. “Genuine complaints should always be dealt with consideration and transparency in mind, and it can reflect poorly on you when trying to share these feelings in a team channel,” says Jones.
Instead, pick up the phone and call your manager and/or HR to discuss any frustrations. If you do decide to air your frustrations via Slack, know that those comments can be screenshotted and used as evidence.
8. Don’t discuss personal matters.
Lastly, avoid discussing hot-button personal issues that wouldn’t fly in an in-person office exchange.
“We all want to be accepted for our views within the workplace and to feel as though our personal lives are considered,” says Jones. “However, these discussions can often cause division between colleagues and can be easily misread or taken out of context through digital methods of communication.”
What’s more, anything potentially controversial or offensive may be brought to your manager — or observed by your company on Slack (yes, your company has ownership over your Slack account, and therefore, can monitor all of the activity on the platform) — and can put your job at risk.
In the same way, if one of your colleagues says something inappropriate, you can screenshot the conversation and bring it to HR. For these reasons, it’s best to keep Slack as a place for you to conduct work tasks only… in the most efficient and courteous way.