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16 Rules for Business Texting

Texting is the new email so best you learn how to do right.


Texting is rapidly becoming popular as a method of business communication. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the unwritten rules for business texting. So I wrote them down. Here they are:

1. Don't text a question you can Google.

For instance, if you've got a smart phone, there's absolutely no reason to be texting somebody for driving directions.

2. Don't text SPAM.

I don't know about you, but if I get SPAM text, that's the last time I'll allow any communications from that person or company.

3. Don't text anything indiscreet.

You never know if the wrong person might be looking over the recipient's shoulder.

4. Don't accidentally text a wrong number.

If you're typing in a phone number, double-check it before hitting send. Better yet, cut and paste it.

5. Don't text anything complex.

Texting is designed for short messages displayed on a small screen. Complex stuff should go in an email.

6. Don't text in ALL CAPS (unless you're pissed off).

If you must emphasize a word or phrase, use asterisks like so: "I'm not *entirely* sure."

7. Don't text whilst driving.

Texting makes you 23 times more likely to get in a fatal accident, which is about the same as driving while intoxicated.

8. Don't text whilst tipsy.

Texting after you've had a few is a perfect way to kill your credibility or (worst case) entirely ruin a business relationship.

9. Don't text indecipherable abbreviations.

U my tnk evry1 udrstnds wt yr sing bt mab nt.

10. Don't text to avoid delivering bad news personally.

You coward!

11. Don't text whilst in a face-to-face meeting.

When you do this, the other person is always thinking: "Damn, I wish I could just slap that effing phone out of his hand."

12. Don't text trivial courtesy messages.

Is that "thx" really necessary? Or is it just cluttering up the recipient's screen?

13. Don't try to text anything subtle.

Texting does not lend itself well to nuance. Shoot for clarity rather than cleverness.

14. Don't expect an immediate text back.

As crazy as this sounds, the recipient might be doing something more important than texting you back.

15. Don't text people who might be sleeping.

The same rules apply to texting as apply to phoning: nothing after 9 p.m. or before 7 a.m.

16. Don't ever text the acronym "LOL."

Unless, of course, you want the recipient to think you've got the vocabulary of a 12 year old.

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IMAGE: realtingley/Flickr
Last updated: Mar 13, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES did a lot of business stuff and wrote a slew of articles and books. Now he writes this column. Preorder his new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, by May 12 and get an exclusive bonus chapter and a signed bookplate.

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