The 7 Things You Need to Know to Text With Good Etiquette
It seems the good, old-fashioned telephone call has gone by the wayside, replaced with texting, a more convenient method of communication that has increased dramatically and is practiced by all ages.
Although fast and convenient, texting brings about its own set of challenges. Words can be misinterpreted, messages can be incomplete and etiquette boundaries can be violated without your knowledge.
Here are seven texting etiquette tips to keep in mind.
1. Consider your audience.
Each text message is a concrete projection of you and it is important to present yourself in the way you want to be perceived. Although you might text one way with your friends, you should text in an entirely different fashion with your co-workers, clients or prospects. Be sure your text is appropriate for your audience.
2. Communicate clearly.
The receiver should not be confused as to what you are trying to say, and if your message is interpreted the wrong way, your miscommunication could cause conflicts and even missed business opportunities. Make sure your message is clear and review it for stand-alone clarity before hitting the “send” button.
3. Respond promptly.
When someone texts you they assume you will receive the message and immediately respond. Unless you are unavailable, make the effort to respond quickly, otherwise your lack of response might be interpreted as a lack of caring. If for some reason you cannot attend to the message quickly, offer an apology for your tardiness as soon as you can.
4. Use symbols and emojis only when necessary.
Smiley faces sometimes have their place when sending a text, which is why this feature was added to texting. However, you should be mindful as to when it is appropriate to use emojis. For example, if you are communicating on a business level, it’s inappropriate to litter your message with smiley faces. Retain your emotional emojis for more personal interactions. When in doubt, leave them out.
Related: The Rules of Business Texting
5. Don’t be long winded.
It may be considered inappropriate to reply to a two-word text with paragraphs upon paragraphs in your response. If you receive a two-word text from someone, you can most likely assume that the sender is in a hurry, does not have much time available, or needs a quick response. If you need to go into detail or offer an extensive explanation, pick up the phone instead or meet in person.
6. Be patient.
Treat text messaging the same way you treat an actual conversation. As it would be rude for you to dominate the conversation when you are speaking, it is also inappropriate when texting. Give the recipient the opportunity to respond before sending a multitude of messages.
7. Know when to end the conversation.
Texting is similar to verbal or written communication. Be perceptive when the other person is ready to stop texting, and do not try to continue or badger the recipient with texts like “Are you still there?” or “Why aren’t you responding?”
If you’re not careful, texting gaffes can be embarrassing and can cause confusion and frustration with friends and clients alike. Keep in mind these seven tips for better communication skills.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).