Many agents have asked me about proper and professional texting etiquette in our modern world. Texting can be a great way to send a quick message on the go, but you have to use it appropriately.
First of all, if you’re texting someone and that person isn’t responding immediately, you need to remember they may not want to or be able to. They may be driving, in a meeting, or out having a nice meal. Their phone could be out of battery or momentarily left behind. Be aware that texting may not be the best way to communicate, especially if you expect an immediate response. Your client or contact may not be as available as you are at the moment. If you text, text wisely.
Now, the rules of professional texting etiquette:
Consider your audience. Who are you texting? Why are you texting? I know many people who love texting, and that’s fine. But what if your audience doesn’t love texting? It’s a good idea to ask your clients how they like to be contacted, make a note of that, and then follow-through with that form of communication.
Consider your message. You need communicate relevant information or a question very clearly. Sometimes this is easiest when you have words written down in black-and-white, but tone-of-voice doesn’t translate well over text.
Watch your auto-correct. I can’t tell you how many incoherent text messages I get because auto-correct substituted the wrong word. Sometimes people get so used to texting and so quick to fire back a short reply that they don’t re-read and proof the message before sending it out.
Respond promptly. Even if you can’t answer a question right away, take a moment to say “I’m away from my desk. I will respond (by text or by email) by (timeline.)” This lets the other person know that you are aware of their message and working on a response. It’s polite while still providing you breathing room so you don’t have to drop everything.
Cool it with the Emojis. This is definitely a topic that is driving some people crazy. Emojis are fine on a personal or casual level, but on a professional level, they can look a little weird and out of place.
Keep it short. Don’t be long-winded on your text messages. I get some text messages that are unreasonably long, which would require an equally long response. Texting just isn’t the medium for that kind of communication. If it’s more than 2 sentences, break out your email app. When I receive a long text message, I will respond with “Thank you for your text. I will respond by email.”
Know when to end the conversation. Keep in mind that not everyone has unlimited texting on their phone. Don’t drag-out the closing statements.
Watch the clock. This is so important. If it can wait until morning, then wait! The recipient of your text might have an older parent living with them, or a sick child, or a shift worker that gets up at 4 am so they’re in bed early. Or the person you’re trying to text just likes going to bed earlier than you. Your late-night text could wake them or a family member. A lot of people put their phones on their night-stand and don’t turn off the ringer. For example, I often leave my ringer on because I want my mom to be able to call me any time she needs me. Late-night communication should be reserved for family and emergencies. Consider the golden rule, know what time you are sending that text message and be courteous.
Be aware of when and what you send, and use texting for what it’s there for: clear, concise communication.
Until next time, take care.