BLUF: If the sender closes their IM chat window is closed immediately after the sending the message, is it rude to not reply at all?

We utilize a program from Lotus called Sametime which allows us to communicate internally-only with each other through Instant Message.  Aside from the plethora of cute and sometimes questionably-appropriate emoticons people use in their IM's, the Sametime system indicates "Doe, Jane is typing..." and "Doe, Jane has closed the chat window."

I've always assumed that if someone sends an IM and then immediately closes the chat window, they're not interested in actually communicating with me.  They've said what they had to say (good morning, here's a link, etc.) and they've moved on without any expectation of a response.  When I see that someone says "Good morning!" and then immediately closes the chat window, I have not responded.  I've figured that they closed the chat window because they're busy with other things and want to concentrate on those windows without being disturbed by a flashing chat window so I've not responded.  Have I been unintentionally sending the wrong message by not sending any reply message?

On a somewhat technical note, if the chat window is left open and I reply, the existing icon/window will flash in the status bar along the bottom of Windows (by the Start button) but if there is no open chat window open when my IM comes through, the recipient's cursor will be dragged immediately and without warning into the reply box of my IM.  I can't tell you how infuriating it is to be in the middle of typing an email to a client or programming something and my cursor gets hijacked to a chat window! 

Am I overthinking things?  No official "here's how you should handle IM's" policy has been issued or discussed.  My approach just seems like common sense and common courtesy but I realize that it MAY be coming across as rude to some folks.

stringl's picture

Hi Ash,

I use IM a lot for work, although a different technology. I'll often send a "good morning" message to see if someone's there, and I may close down the chat window. That way I'm more likely to see the reply when it comes. But then, it doesn't tell the other person I've done that, and I don't get the problem with the focus going to the reply when it's sent. So my habits may be different if that were so. Or maybe other people like that the reply window gets the focus, and that's exactly why they close it down in the first place. I only ever send a "good morning" message as a conversation opener, rather than a simple stand-alone greeting.

Equally, if someone doesn't respond, I'm not offended. I'm fine if someone is in the middle of something and isn't open to responding to IM. I tend to follow up with either a call or an email in that case. Not everyone likes IM. So if you were (unintentionally) ignoring my IMs I wouldn't consider that rude.


scottmcl's picture
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As a side note, depending on the version of Sametime you are using, you can turn off the annoying "pop to the front" feature of the software. In the latest releases, go to "Preferences > Notifications". Then select "One on one chat" in the box to the right. Then turn off the option "Bring chat window to front" by unchecking the box. Then choose "Apply" and/or "OK" to close the box. From then on, the windows shouldn't pop up to the front.

A few members of our team do the same thing - closing windows after sending a quick "hello". I've assumed that the ones who do it are more likely to just be either keeping their "active" windows to a minimum or they just respond to people as the windows pop up in front of them or flash in their taskbar (like 144 mentioned). Since I'm trying to meet and talk to more people, I always take that time to respond anyway, no matter what the other person did with their window. As long as they're not a die hard "C" that hardly looks up if you were to say "hello" to them when walking by their desk in the morning, I don't think you're doing any harm by ignoring their messages. Besides, that "C" isn't going to ping you just to say "hello" in the first place...  :)

I hope that helps!!!