instant messaging tips

Emoti-whats? How to Connect Via Instant Messenger

I’ve seen it happen before: you try to send a quick note to someone via the instant messenger, a short conversation ensues, and the next thing you know someone’s really ticked off. How did that happen? What did you say to get them that mad?

This is fairly typical and happens on a regular basis, especially when two people don’t know each other very well. One word on the instant messenger can hit a nerve on the other end and make someone think that you are being bossy, rude, or inconsiderate. One word: emoticons.

Emoticons are those little smiley faces you see in chats. While you CAN over-do emoticons, usually it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There are lots of versions. Beer smileys, heart smileys, barf smileys, you name it and there’s a smiley for the occasion. But not all smileys are good for business communication.

I find that I tend to reach for just a few:

  • the original smiley 🙂
    Works best for just keeping the tone light or to let someone know I’m kidding. 
  • the unhappy smiley 🙁
    Works best for letting someone know I’m not happy without having to type something that might offend them. 
  • and the wink 😉
    Works best as a secondary original smiley. This is a good emoticon for also keeping the tone light or letting someone know you are being sarcastic.

Of course, other emoticons can work, too. Just remember, if the person on the other end of the line does not know you, you should keep the communication simple and light. Even if you need to emphasize a point, you can be clear and follow up with an emoticon to prevent the person from misunderstanding.

instant messaging tips tools

Screen Sharing – the Ultimate IM Experience

I’m a techie. Everybody that knows me understands this simple fact. I won’t go so far as to call me a nerd, but geek is within the relm of reason. 

What this translates to in the office is that I get asked a lot of technical questions. Sometimes it’s “Hey Justyn, how did you get that one thing in Excel?” or “Hey Justyn, why doesn’t my printer work” or my personal favorite “Hey Justyn, I think I broke the internet. Can you fix it?” 

Right from my desk…

Instead of getting away from my desk, I use screen sharing software to quickly SHOW people what to do. Fortunately, Brosix – our enterprise instant messenger – has screen sharing built right in. I just chat, click the screen share button, fix the problem, and move on.

Other solutions

If you haven’t converted to Brosix at your business yet – and you will – then you have a few other options at your disposal. The only one I’m willing to discuss is Team Viewer. You can have your work mate log in to the website, download the client, and in a few minutes you are sharing screens.

Of course, this is a whole lot of headache compared to screen sharing right out of your instant messenger.

instant messaging tips tricks

Alt + Tab = Much better

As instant messaging slowly creeps towards 75% of all my communications with my work mates, I am needing all the help I can get to stay efficient. One of the problems I have been running into lately is that I have so many windows open and reaching for the mouse, clicking on the window I want to type in, and putting my hands back on the keyboard is wasting my time!

Sound a bit OCD? Well, you’re talking to the guy who learned to type in Dvorak just to increase his efficiency at typing. ANYTHING I can do to save a few keystrokes or reduce movements adds up to big savings later.


This is no new trick, but it’s good to revisit basics sometimes. When you have multiple windows open, you can click your Alt + Tab keys to switch between windows. This works brilliantly for instant messaging at work.

Here’s what I do: I use my left hand to Alt+Tab through my open messenger windows until I get to chat I want to type in. I actually use my thumb on the Alt key and pinky finger on the Tab key.

The result is that I don’t have to take my hands out of the typing position. This means I can VERY quickly type, Alt+Tab, type, etc.

Every little bit helps!