Texting is now one of the main forms of communication, not only in personal use but for business as well. With texting taking the place of phone calls and even email at times, we need to be sure that what we're trying to say will be understood the way we intend.
In schools and universities we have classes for speech, long-form writing and literature, but nothing that prepares us to write 140-160 character messages to our boss. So what does good texting etiquette look like? Here are seven tips to help you navigate the waters of texting in business.
1. Always Double Check the Recipient
Before we even get into writing that text message, let's double check who we're sending it to. While a message intended for your boss going to your wife isn't a huge deal, the inverse could be embarrassing and inappropriate.
2. Don’t be the First to Text
Sending a text to a superior without ever receiving one from them can be awkward. If you got their number from a coworker or they’re not expecting a text from you, it’s probably a good idea to avoid that form of communication for now. When your boss texts you first, then you can be more free to text when needed, but not often.
3. Keep it Brief
No one likes receiving a large message broken up into several pieces, or one massive bubble text that really should have been an email. Choose your words wisely, be concise and don’t fluff. Even though many phones don’t give a limit on characters for a text, it’s still a good idea to keep around that 160 mark.
4. Don’t Joke, Unless They Think You’re Funny
If you don’t know the person well enough, a joke via text may come across the wrong way. They make take you seriously when you’re actually being sarcastic, or be confused at the joke if they haven’t really interacted enough with you in person. Wait until you have had plenty of real face connection (and laughter) before joking via text.
5. Mind the Time
This really applies for both emails and text, since many people receive both on their smart phones instantaneously. Even though you may be up at midnight working on tomorrow’s presentation, that doesn’t mean your boss is too. Write the email and save it as a draft, or type the text in a notepad app somewhere. Don’t send a text past 10pm unless you know your superior well enough, or if they texted you first.
6. Always Respond
When your superior texts you, answer them. Quickly. And make sure you’re responding using the same communication method. Don’t respond to a text via email or vice versa. Also, when you send a text, don’t be impatient for a reply or prod for an answer. Be dependable, but don’t be needy.
7. Check Your Spelling
Before you send that message, read it over for mistakes. While texting is a more casual means of communication, effective communication still requires words to be spelled correctly. Look for "you’re" vs. "your" and don’t use texting shortcuts (e.g. lol, brb) unless the recipient has already used them on you.
Grammar in writing is like the first impression when you meet someone face to face. No matter how meaningful the words you’re speaking, they’re cased in manerisms and body language. And the text you compose is cased in grammar and spelling.