I am working in IT and this question is about my Indian colleagues.

This is about chatting over Instant Messaging(IM) like Lync, Skype etc.

Sometimes, I used to get single letter replies like below.

k ( means Ok)

s ( means Yes)

y ( means Why)

tx ( means Thanks)

These people used to type small paragraphs when they needed but sometimes using this shortest response.

Sometimes I assume they are busy but mostly I feel irritated by type of responses. Because I take these messages as rude or insult.

I think along the lines, How much time it would take to type an additional letter?

How to respond to these type of messages?


Are these normal responses and I am over-reacting?

  • 35
    You are over-reacting. Jun 12 '19 at 19:07
  • 1
    If you feel insulted, what steps have you taken? Have you spoken with your colleagues about this? When you ask how to respond to these messages, what's your goal?
    – dwizum
    Jun 12 '19 at 19:16
  • 1
    Would you prefer a simple thumbs up, or sad face emoticon?
    – Keith
    Jun 12 '19 at 19:31
  • 6
    Aside from this question, you may want to ask yourself why it hurts and do some soul searching. Maybe there's a more deeply rooted issue here, which you could benefit from uncovering and dealing with.
    – dwizum
    Jun 12 '19 at 19:50
  • 2
    How to respond to these type of messages? - You're not in control of their communication style. If you want to write out full and complete words and sentences then do so, but don't attempt to foist or force your communication preferences on your colleagues. This is your hang up, not theirs.
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 12 '19 at 21:50

It sounds like your colleagues are using these instant messaging tools very informally. In a workplace setting, instant messages typically augment in-person conversation, which is inherently informal to begin with - so it's typical for IMs to take on an informal feeling, too.

You asked two questions,

How to respond to these type of messages?

That's not really easy to answer, since - in the conversational sense - we don't have any context to know if you need to respond. If you ask someone to do something, and they say "k" as a way of acknowledging your request, there may not be an inherent need to respond.

If you were wondering how to respond more from the perspective of, "how can I get my coworkers to change this behavior?" then you might want to consider that changing this sort of behavior is likely an uphill battle culturally, there doesn't seem to be any strict business justification for doing so, and since you're presenting this as being an issue with your colleagues (versus people who report to you), it's not clear that you're really in a position to make any formal changes, anyway.

Are these normal responses and I am over-reacting?

In the context of what you've presented here, it does seem like these are "normal" in your workplace, so - based on that - it does seem that you're over-reacting.


The way these replies are presented it makes me think the conversation is over.


Did you get my Report




im off to lunch




I put the bucket of money on your desk



So I would assume there would be no need for a response. however with a reply of y i would think you would then explain yourself as needed.


I just got done microwaving Fish in the break room.




bc i wanted to sit in the break room alone while I ate.

So unless there is a specific reason to keep communicating I would move on with my day and only ping them again if something new comes up.


Two important questions: Are you a manager/team lead, or are these your colleagues? Are these remote workers or people who you share an office with?

If they're your collegues, I would speak to your manager or team lead, and ask them to deal with it since you feel that they are being rude to you.

If you are a manager, and they're remote workers, I would recommend sending an email to everyone on the team reminding them that all company communication is recorded, and that it should be kept professional at all times, including the use of proper spelling and grammar.

If you're a manager, and they're workers at your office, I'd mention it during the next team meeting, rather than sending an email.

  • I feel "rude" is a bit exaggerating and subjective to annoy your manager with. If anything, make it a concern for there to be clear comms in official channels so decisions and acknowledgements are properly documented (unless this is something like WhatsApp, in which case you deserve all the 'k's in the world).
    – lucasgcb
    Jun 13 '19 at 7:12

One way that could get them to stop responding like that is to ask clarification from them EVERY. SINGLE.TIME they use one. You see a single letter response? You ask them what it means. Make them type it out.

In time they'll simply start using whole words with you. Of course, they will probably be annoyed with you at the same time for being unable to grasp the definition of the abbreviation.

  • So just keep playing dumb. Respond by "Oh yeah! I forgot". Eventually, it'll be less painful to just reply with a whole word.
    – Keith
    Jun 12 '19 at 21:25
  • It may be even less painful to complain to the person's manager about how much time they are wasting. Jun 13 '19 at 1:31
  • 2
    Like Patricia said you might end up becoming the problem instead. Their intent is not malicious and what they do is not concerning, so playing dumb will not be how you get people to do things.
    – lucasgcb
    Jun 13 '19 at 7:16
  • I wouldn't recommend this.... an established single letter abbreviation is there to help save time and offers less of a distraction for someone who might be focused on actually doing work. You waste far more time asking for clarification than they would spend replying to you with single letter. k.
    – Shadowzee
    Jun 13 '19 at 7:55

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