When text messaging was first introduced on cellular phones, communicating this way was mainly done between personal acquaintances; until it wasn’t. It didn’t take long before a younger generation was texting their acceptance of a job offer or asking a client to meet for drinks after work.
As bulk text messaging crossed over into the business world, it did what it had been doing in our personal lives as well – provided a faster, simpler way to communicate. However, there are some facets of using text messaging professionally that are far different from those we use with friends.
Let’s explore 9 tips for business texting etiquette.
1. Ask for Permission
There are people who prefer to use text messaging for specific reasons and with specific people, and it’s fitting that you ask them ahead of time if receiving a text from you is appropriate. Also, be sure to identify yourself when you send a message so as to avoid any confusion when they receive a message from an unknown number.
2. Business Hours Only
It’s easy enough for people to avoid business calls outside of business hours – they can leave the office. But to avoid text messages is a bit more difficult as chances are their smartphone is likely with them almost constantly. Perhaps a bit obvious as it relates to business texting etiquette, be sure to respect business hours as it relates to sending a text, no one wants to receive a message when they’re trying to enjoy time with their family in the evening or are just waking up in the morning.
3. Stick with One Mode of Communication
We all understand the frustration of wanting an answer back from a client or colleague, and they’re not responding as quickly as we’d like. However, employing several modes of communication on top of one another in an attempt to get their attention is annoying to the recipient, who will end up fielding every call, email and text at some point. Not only are you wasting their time, but you risk appearing unprofessional and potentially rude.
4. Use Your Manners
When it comes to your manners, treat texting as you would email and even phone calls. Always be courteous and use polite greetings and closings. Also, try to stay away from anything unnecessary that strays away from the topic at hand. Text messages used for business are a way to save time, so be sure to stick to the point.
5. Proofread Before Hitting Send
Features like autocorrect and voice-to-text have made texting much simpler, however, those features are far from foolproof. Be absolutely sure to proofread your text messages after writing them or using voice-to-text to ensure that your message sounds exactly as you intended.
6. Always Be Professional
It’s remarkable to see the way that texting has evolved over the years. It’s become easier to get your point across with things like emotion and tone through the use of things like emojis and GIFs. However, when it comes to business texting etiquette, it’s a good idea to stay away from those very things, along with abbreviations and acronyms. Don’t risk texting anything that doesn’t portray you as less than professional.
7. Be Respectful
Texting has made it easy to stay in touch with our spouses and children throughout the day, or even quickly communicate with team members and colleagues. As much as we’ve come to rely on this method of communication, it’s never a good idea to be texting during a meeting or client dinner. Be respectful of the people you’re with or listening to, put the phone down, and give them your full attention.
8. Never Deliver Bad News
As with email, you never want to use text messages to deliver bad news. When a situation calls for a live voice either via phone or in person, it’s still a good idea to go that route. Having a difficult conversation deserves the undivided attention and empathy of both parties, something texting cannot fully provide.
9. Don’t Overuse
There is no doubt that technology has improved our lives in countless ways, including the use of text messages and its ability to simplify our daily lives. However, technology shouldn’t take the place of real human interaction. Be careful not to use overuse text messaging in your business relationships.
The essential things to remember about business texting etiquette are that you’re not using text messages when the situation calls for more, and as always, to be respectful of others’ time and communication preferences. Keep in mind that text messaging is the same as any other method of communication in that it’s vital to be aware of how we are portraying ourselves professionally.
About the Author
Jessica Barrett Halcom
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer with specializations in technology, human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and lives in Nashville, TN.