Texting Etiquette @ Work

    One of the more popular work culture topics we’ve ever covered here at IT Business is email etiquette. Everyone has a story or two about how a coworker or associate offended them highly – and usually another story about how they embarrassed themselves doing some equally dumb thing over email. (Confession: I once sent a highly confidential document to the wrong person in my company – same first name, different last name. Thankfully, she realized my mistake before opening the attachment, but I’ll never forget that moment of terror.)

    Now that texting is overrunning our personal lives, and bleeding into our work lives, as well, many of those etiquette reminders still apply to the newer medium. Be careful with emoticons, don’t use the text for highly confidential or highly complex communications, and don’t write in all caps.

    Career coach and author of several books on workplace issues, Barbara Pachter, includes specific workplace texting etiquette advice in her newest book, “The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success.” A few of Business Insider’s favorites include watching your tone, which can be even harder in texts than in email, since brevity often conveys curtness when it wasn’t exactly intended; avoiding changing meeting times or places; and double-checking the results when using voice-to-text.

    May I add a few of my own? I will admit that I am not terribly comfortable texting in the workplace, but a few coworkers have texted me, and we have also used it when all other communication methods have been temporarily hosed. It’s definitely been a lifesaver once or twice. However, to avoid offense and embarrassment and seeming uncouth, these bits of advice seem notable:

    Identify Yourself: Especially if it is the first time you are texting a colleague, make sure they know who you are. Even if you are positive that they have the number you are calling from stored in their phone, follow this rule. You don’t know how your message will be displayed. If a number is not recognized, you may not get the type of response you are expecting, creating embarrassment on both ends.

    End the Conversation Clearly: Texts sometimes fly back and forth so furiously that wires get crossed and it can be difficult to tell which response goes with which question. Take a few seconds to make it clear that the conversation is complete.

    Choose Your Time and Place: The general tendency to treat texting more casually than email may lead to lots of messaging at all hours. Be mindful of the timing of your text so as to be respectful of both your message recipient and those who might be in your presence. The Golden Rule is certainly applicable: Text others as you would want them to text you.

    Have any other texting etiquette tips you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comment section.

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