Messaging apps are great work tools for getting critical information across quickly when on-the-go. But the combination of lots to do and not enough time to do it in can lead to sloppy messages, not to mention the big-fingers-little-keyboard frustration. To some extent, this is forgiven – we’ve all seen (or used) the “Forgive any errors, sent from my phone” mobile signatures. But while your texts to your close friends can be as creatively written as you like, observing key messaging etiquette can still make a huge difference at work.
Do not over-abbreviate
y r u l8? Because it took too long to understand your messages! Some abbreviations are standard and useful, but when you start omitting all of your vowels in an attempt to save time, you’ve gone overboard. Abbreviations have to be universally recognized to contribute to effective communication. Sticking to company-wide abbreviations and avoiding informal ones will not only ensure understanding, but it will also let your recipient know that you value their time enough to do so. The same goes with emoji: avoid replacing entire sentences with strings of emoticons!
Always check autocorrect
While the wave of Buzzfeed articles listing “Top 10 Funniest Autocorrects” may have passed, the need for constant attention to what your phone is doing to your words has not. Autocorrects can be harmless, but they can also produce incredibly inappropriate messages, and it is difficult to retract mistakes once they’ve been made. So do a quick skim of your message to make sure you aren’t sending anything that dramatically hurts your reputation at work, but also make sure Autocorrect did do its job of editing all your grammatical errors.
Watch your tone
When you’re in a rush and typing out a message on the fly, sentences tend to become shorter and more abrupt. Humor and sarcasm also generally don’t translate well unless you and your recipient know each other well. Striking the right tone can be difficult so be mindful of it, especially if you’re messaging your boss! Avoid the insult humor before you’ve made friends at work.
Know when mobile messaging is appropriate
Certain situations are still better suited towards in-person interaction or at the very least a phone call. Difficult conversations, such as ones when one party might be breaking bad news to another, can be seen as disrespectful if done over a quick message. An important aspect of work is building the trust and respect of coworkers and direct reports, and it would not help your relationship with colleagues if you were seen as one who hides behind text messages in times of serious discussion.
Perfect grammar is neither required nor even expected in mobile messages. But everything you write reflects on your professional image, and you certainly don’t want to be known as the coworker who sends inappropriate messages. A 2-fast-2-furious texting style may suit your needs when you’re running out the door to take a meeting, but professional messaging should retain, well, professionalism.
Any other texting pet peeves, or your own mobile messaging bloopers? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!