By Jorie Scholnik
If you’re like me, you’ve witnessed a table full of friends eating together but text messaging someone else. And if you attend professional development workshops, you’ve probably noticed everyone sitting in silence texting on their phones before the speaker begins.
It seems like our society is obsessed with text messaging. It makes sense. It’s quick, easy and efficient. Being that I’m a millennial, I will confess that I fall into the phone-obsessed stereotype and text a lot. Maybe this just highlights the times we live in, but I actually don’t remember a month when my text messaging total was lower than my talking minutes total on my cell phone bill.
However, sending a text message may not be appropriate in every situation and certain rules may apply, particularly in the business arena. Here’s a list of my top text messaging dos and don’ts:
Recognize when it’s more appropriate to call, mail, or send an e-mail. For example, it’s best to send party invitations or wedding announcements through the mail, particularly for formal occasions. Saying thank you will come across more genuine and personal if done over the phone or in a handwritten note. If you need to ask someone for a favor try another channel of communication such as e-mail.
Stick to the 140-character limit. Text messages should be short and direct. Strings of messages that appear after each other can be overwhelming and time consuming for the recipient.
The message should require a quick reply. A few words should be enough to respond. If the recipient needs to conduct research or look up the answer, it’s better to call or e-mail the person.
Use names. In cases where you must send a text message to a colleague or boss, greet him or her by name to make your text message appear more professional. Sign your name at the end of the text message so the person will know who sent it. This avoids confusion if your cell phone number isn’t saved in their phone.
Steer clear of texting lingo when messaging a co-worker. Common phrases like LOL (laugh out loud), TTYL (talk to you later), BTW (by the way) and SMH (shaking my head) are only appropriate when talking to friends. Besides, everyone may not understand a text containing these phrases.
Limit the number of attachments. It can be difficult for the receiver to load your message and view large attachments on a cell phone. The text also could appear very small which would require the receiver to view your attachment on a computer.
Send text messages at appropriate hours. It’s best to respect traditional business hours when sending a text message. The receiver will most likely get irritated if you constantly ping him after he’s gone to bed. Besides, it signals that you don’t have work/life balance boundaries.
Jorie Scholnik currently works as an assistant professor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches career classes and leads an etiquette club. She has also been working under the direction of Jacqueline Whitmore at The Protocol School of Palm Beach for more than six years. She earned her master’s degree in counseling and her undergraduate degrees in public relations and psychology from the University of Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @JorieScholnik.