These days, text messaging is a popular way to communicate. Commonly referred to as “texting,” this method of communication is simple, efficient, and effective. But what’s considered acceptable when texting friends is very different than what is acceptable when texting business contacts. Here are 20 short tips to help you make good decisions.
1. Don’t send a text unless it’s urgent. When you send people a text, in most cases, you will be interrupting them. The default settings on most mobile phones ring or vibrate when it receives a text message. So if you are going to interrupt someone, make sure you have a good reason.
2. Don’t send a text message if you can send an email. Every business professional I know checks his or her email at least twice a day and almost all of them prefer communication by e-mail rather than texting. For the most part, their reasons are time management based. People don’t like being interrupted unless it’s urgent and they are more productive if they respond to all their messages during scheduled blocks of time. For most people, it’s also more efficient to type messages on a computer rather than on a phone.
3. Don’t send a text if you should make a call. If you know that the subject of your message will require back-and-forth communication, either pick up the phone and call the person or if it’s not time-sensitive, send an email requesting a specific time to talk. I also want to point out that business relationships are seldom built or strengthened through text messaging, so use it sparingly.
4. Avoid texting people who don’t text you. According to a Success Magazine survey, only 4% of the business professionals surveyed prefer texting to other forms of communication. If you have never received a text message from someone, consider that they may not like to text.
5. Don’t text bad news. If you have bad news to share with people, give them the courtesy of a call. Emailing or texting bad news is a cop-out.
6. Don’t type in CAPS. Reading CAPS is harder and is generally referred to as YELLING!
7. Don’t assume people know what all the acronyms and text slang mean. Not everyone knows that ttyl means “talk to you later” or jk means “just kidding.” Say what you mean and make sure your messages present you as a business professional, rather than a texting junkie.
8. Don’t text during meetings. If you send or read texts during a meeting, your actions convey that the meeting is not important to you. After all, how can you focus on the discussion that’s taking place if you are texting? It would be just like having a verbal side conversation; clearly inconsiderate and disrespectful.
9. Use punctuation. Type your texts using the same punctuation you would use in your emails. Since these are business texts, make sure they present you well.
10. Don’t text after business hours unless there’s a good reason. If you have something to share with someone after business hours, consider using email. If you want people to respect your family and personal time, respect theirs. You also run the risk of losing your influence if you don’t respect people’s private time.
11. Proof your messages. Take an extra few seconds and make sure you don’t have any misspellings or improper language. Be proud of the messages you send.
12. Get to the point. Since a text message is limited to a small number of words, get to the point of your message and keep it from spilling over into another message. If you have a lot to share, consider picking up the phone or sending an email.
13. Include your name. Unless you are absolutely certain that the recipient of your text has your name plugged into their phone, include your name in the message.
14. Watch your tone. Make sure you pay close attention to the tone of your message. If you are upset about something, pick up the phone and call the person.
15. Return text messages. If someone sends you a text, they expect a response in a reasonable period of time. Show that you are a responsible person by returning all messages in a timely manner.
16. Don’t send a text after leaving a message. As a general rule, if you call someone, you should always leave a message. After leaving a message, don’t follow up with a text message unless it is URGENT. Consider that your call interrupted them once. You don’t want your text to interrupt them a second time.
17. Don’t leave people hanging. If you are done with a text conversation, let the person know.
18. Don’t waste people’s time. Don’t send unnecessary text messages. As an example, when a text conversation is clearly over, don’t send another message. Once again, every text you send is likely to interrupt someone’s activity, meeting, or train of thought.
19. Show respect and courtesy. Whatever you do, consider how it affects those around you. Unless it’s urgent, avoid sending texts when you are spending time with people.
20. Not while you are driving. While this seems like common sense, I am shocked by the number of people I see sending text messages in cars. Next to drunk drivers, distracted drivers are the second-leading cause of fatal automobile accidents.
If you will follow these 20 text-messaging tips, you will be viewed as someone who is professional, considerate, and respectful of other people’s time. You may want to consider implementing these same tips in your personal communications. Practicing these texting lessons will certainly bring more peace into your life and allow you to better control your time.
Don’t ever allow yourself to think something doesn’t matter. Everything matters!