Is group chat making you sweat? - Deepstash
Is group chat making you sweat?

Is group chat making you sweat?

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Group chat and messaging tool for business

Group chat and messaging tool for business

Group chat is an important tool in the communications toolbox. It is valuable for special cases and less useful for general cases.

When used appropriately and sparingly, it's great. But it becomes a potential enemy when it systematically controls and diverts your attention away from doing great work. 

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Group chat is great for

  • Hashing things out quickly. Throw in some words and a picture, get some quick feedback and move on.
  • Red alerts, such as a crisis or a server that's down.
  • Having fun is essential. A chat works great to develop culture, make inside jokes, emojis, and meme generators.
  • A sense of belonging. This is vital for remote workers to greet, let people know they're out for lunch, and generally feel part of something.

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Group chat as the primary method of communication

Group chat as the main method of communication leads to:

  • Mental fatigue and exhaustion. Group chat feels like an all-day meeting with no agenda.
  • An ASAP culture. Everything must happen now! 
  • Fear of missing out or not having a say. If you don't pay attention all the time, you might lose out.
  • Thinking a line at a time instead of complete thoughts at a time. People can jump in before you can fully present yourself.
  • Implied consensus because "we talked about it in the chat room."
  • Knee-jerk responses. You only have a small window to make your point before the writing scrolls away.
  • Lack of context.

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How to make a real-time/asynchronous split work

As a rule of thumb, use group chat in real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.

  • Don't expect everyone to be in chat all day.
  • If it's important, slow down. The conversation is not suitable for a chat room.
  • Announcements aren't chats. Send announcements via email or whatever that provides synchronous communication.
  • Give everyone a chance to have a say. Thoughtful feedback = time + an answer, not just an answer.
  • Treat group chats like conference calls. Limit it to three people as more can become chaotic.
  • Summarise instead of drip information.
  • It's OK to be unavailable.

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We still lean on chat too much, and I'd like to see us make a major effort to cut back. Understanding the positives and negatives, and how they play off one another, is central to getting the most out of something. Ignoring the pros because the pros are so good, or dismissing the pros because the Cons are so bad, leaves you with a false sense of comfort and a cloudy picture of the reality on the ground.

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