Chances are, your workplace communication techniques have changed since you began your career. I remember receiving paper memos in my office mailbox. I always took note of whose mailbox was bulging with paper. It was clear you had to visit their desk to relay a message!
Today, many offices are completely digital. And because our email inboxes are overflowing, many of us are using text messages to connect with each other.
Unfortunately, some professionals are texting in ways that could damage their credibility or harm their business’ reputation. It’s no surprise, really. This is new technology. It probably wasn’t part of your business school curriculum. That’s why I put together these essential etiquette tips for texting in the workplace.
The Message Maven’s guide to texting in the workplace
- Treat people the same way you would in person. This golden rule applies to all digital communication. If you wouldn’t say something in a face-to-face conversation, then don’t share it via text, email or social media.
- Be safe. Never text when driving. No business message is more important than your life.
- Respond to messages in a timely manner. You do not need to respond to a message immediately, but you should be prompt. Unless you’re under deadline or involved in a critical situation, respond to a text message within four hours.
- Be respectful of people’s time. We’re all busy. Make sure every professional text message is worthy of the receiver’s time. Text messages are ideal for quick notifications (“FYI- The 1 p.m. meeting has been changed to room 325”) and reminders (“Let’s discuss that new client proposal when we meet over lunch today”).
- Be cognizant of how group texting works. Group texts are ideal for sending a short message to several people at once. But keep in mind that every reply will go to everyone in the group (just like a “reply all” in email). This can quickly become overwhelming (as well as confusing) if everyone chimes in at once. If you want to send a message just to the original message sender, start a new message. Never hijack a message. Start a new message chain if you want to start a conversation with just a few of the group text participants.
- Avoid texting during meetings. Unless it’s an irate client or a family emergency, avoid texting during meetings. This sends the message that the current conversation isn’t important, and can damage your reputation.
- Be aware of coworkers’ texting preferences. Some coworkers may appreciate a quick text commending them on a great presentation. Others may only appreciate texts during an emergency situation. You may also have coworkers who haven’t embraced smartphones or have limited-message plans.
- Use emojis wisely. A thumbs up can quickly get your message across, but think twice before using sad faces, hearts or that monkey covering his eyes. Emoticons can detract from your message and make you appear unprofessional.
- Be understanding if you receive unwanted text messages. It’s going to happen. When it does, just relax. Simply allow the flow of messages from an out-of-control group text to happen (turn off your notifications) and get on with your life.
Learn when to put down your phone. Finally, don’t let technology control your life. Even CEOs are entitled to a little down time.