Did you ever think text messaging would become a significant line of communication to your friends, family and even in the workplace? It does not seem as if it were that long ago that it became a regular part of most of our lives. I certainly never imagined it would be a consistent avenue of communication in my professional life.
Text messaging has many disadvantages, but it also has many advantages. Just a few fun facts and statistics for you:
1) Nearly 70% of employees think text should be used for interoffice communication.
2) Americans text twice as much as they call, on average.
3) 91% of people who text prefer it over voicemail.
In the therapy world, I find it is easier for those who are treating to respond via text with a quick answer or perhaps a time that they can be reached by phone for a more in-depth conversation. The guidelines below are great reminders for all of us on how to adhere to good business texting etiquette.
Check for Errors: When composing text messages for business, watch your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Misspelled words and poor punctuation create a bad impression. Proofread your message to eliminate errors before you hit send. That pesky autocorrect feature can sometimes change the conversation from serious, to not so, with just one word!
Steer clear of Abbreviations and Emoticons: Just as grammar and punctuation are important, so is not using abbreviations or slang. Abbreviations convey an unprofessional tone and some may not be understood across cultural borders. It is best to say what you mean.
As for Emoticons, those cute little smiley faces can express an array of moods in a text. They can also be viewed as unprofessional and you may not be taken seriously if you use them too often. (Side note here: Once I establish a rapport with someone whom I exchange messages with regularly, I like to use the occasional smiley face. Guilty!) Emoticons may be used sparingly when you are comfortable with the person you are communicating with. They can sometimes be a good way to convey tone, which brings me to our next reminder.
Watch Your Tone: As with all typed messages, it is hard to convey the appropriate tone. Take time when you craft your message. Try reading it aloud before sending and use good punctuation. Avoid typing in all caps as that can be viewed as shouting or aggressiveness.
Check the Recipient: We have all done it. One touch of a button and your message can be sent to one, or many incorrect recipients. Give that contact name or number a double check before hitting send. You will thank yourself later!
Sign your messages: Sign your message or offer an introduction at the beginning. In a business setting you cannot be sure that the recipient has your contact information. If they don’t know who you are, they may not respond to your message.
I’d like to offer a few last words of wisdom: don’t forget HIPAA compliance rules when text messaging. Never exchange a patient’s protected health information with a fellow co-worker or anyone else, for that matter. Last, but certainly not least: DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE (I put that in all caps on purpose, 😉 )! Like it or not, texting is a part of our day to day. We might as well embrace it and use it appropriately as a key communication tool in the workplace.