Illustration: Ashley Siebels
Like it or loathe it, people are spending an increasing amount of time on their phones, and continuous advancements in technology – particularly regarding social media and communication – means it can be hard to switch off from work and achieve a healthy work-life balance. But for all of its flaws, it’s this same technology that allows us to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues and peers so easily – it’s literally at the touch of a button!
Texting is now one of the most convenient ways of communicating in business, but it brings its own set of challenges and you could overstep etiquette boundaries without even realizing it.
To clear up any doubts or ambiguities, the office experts at LondonOffices.com have compiled a list of 15 business texting rules that all professionals should keep in mind and live by.
Amongst them are stark warnings to always check the recipient and when using the voice-to-text feature, and to never send bad news via text.
The commercial property experts also advise against using emojis when texting your clients, and to keep your abbreviations under control.
Chris Meredith from LondonOffices.com commented: “It can be difficult to ascertain what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to texting or instant messaging your clients and colleagues.
“There are unspoken rules and procedures to follow which may not always seem obvious, so hopefully our list will help to clear things up.”
Here are 15 business texting rules to live by:
1. Watch your abbreviations
A good rule of thumb is to only type what you would be comfortable saying out loud, and only use abbreviations that are widely known such as “lol” (laugh out loud) or “np” (no problem). Also, steer away from any that could be deemed unprofessional, like “wtf” for example.
2. Be aware of your tone
Try to write in complete sentences to prevent sounding abrupt, and always read your message out loud to make sure it doesn’t come across too harsh.
3. Keeps the caps off
Somewhere along the line emailing, texting, and social messaging in capital letters has come to be perceived as shouting and as such will only annoy recipients. Just as you (hopefully) wouldn’t shout at business contacts face to face, don’t do it by text.
4. Keep emojis under control
Every piece of communication is a reflection of your professionalism, including a simple text. So, even though there are hundreds of fun emoji’s, reserve them for your personal correspondence instead.
5. Check the recipient
If you’ve ever accidentally sent a text to the wrong person, you’ll know how confusing and potentially embarrassing it can be. Those autosuggest functions on your phone are great for the most part, but it can lead to confusion if contacts have similar names. So, check, check and check again that your message is going to the right person or people before you send it.
6. Never send bad news via text
The bottom line is that texting is too casual a medium to give bad news. It’s difficult to know what tone you’re giving off in a text message, so it’s safer to stick to only good news when sending texts to people in your professional network.
7. Don’t change meeting times or venues in a text
If you’re going to change a meeting time or venue at the last minute, give the person a call instead – otherwise they may not check their phones in time.
8. Always double check when using the voice-to-text feature
Many smartphones have the voice-to-text feature which allows you to dictate your message into your phone’s microphone where it is then converted into a text message. This seems super quick and easy but in reality, you have no idea what sounds your phone may be picking up. So, always double check your message before pressing ‘send’.
9. Pay attention to timings
This one’s simple – limit texting to work hours. Sending a text after hours signals urgency, so wait until the next business day to relay your message. You wouldn’t call a client with a great idea right before you climbed into bed for the evening, so don’t text them at that hour either.
10. Know when to pick up the phone
Anything complex that might require further explanation should be handled with an email or a phone call.
11. Keep it brief
If your message is more than a couple of sentences in length, a phone call or email is probably better.
12. Reply promptly
Texting often conveys a sense of immediacy, so when you receive a message from your boss or a client, respond in a timely manner. On the other hand, when a text is emotional, give yourself some time to think your response through. The speed and convenience of texting is why we love it, but don’t let it work against you.
13. Sign your messages
In a business texting situation, you can’t be sure that the recipient has your contact details saved. If they don’t know who you are, they may even ignore the message. So, simply add your name or initials at the end of the message to make it clear who the text is coming from.
14. Put it away
Being glued to your phone takes away from your professional image and can be quite distracting, so just as you wouldn’t check your email every 10 seconds, give your phone a rest so you can observe your environment and engage with others.
15. Check display pics
Some instant messaging services like WhatsApp allow you to upload your own display image or icon, so make sure yours would be deemed professional by anyone you might be messaging.