With texts, messaging, and emails increasingly replacing many phone calls and in-person conversations for personal and business purposes, we’ve compiled several tips to help improve online communication skills.
Make a Good Impression
Just as you’d start an in-person or phone conversation, open with “Good Morning!” or a similar greeting. For first-time texts or emails, introduce yourself and explain, briefly, why you are contacting the recipient. Type carefully to avoid typos. Resist the temptation to respond to messages, texts, or calls that may come in while you’re e-conversing; it’s too easy to accidentally mix up the conversations, responding to the wrong party.
Don’t Be Rude
Just as talking overly loudly on the phone distracts those nearby, it is also rude to text or email while spending time with friends or family. Excuse yourself to find a quiet spot where you can focus on the digital conversation. Pay attention to text messages by staying on topic, and read emails carefully and completely before responding. Not responding to questions is just as bad as sending an email reply that shows you didn’t read the message.
Think Twice, Type Once
You have no control over any email or text sent; they may be deleted after being read, or they could be saved or even shared. Just as drunk texting rarely ends well, so too, reacting in irritation or anger can come back to haunt you. For the same reason, think about attachments before you send them. Everything you send electronically lives forever and cannot be retracted.
Did I Wake You?
It’s easy to lose sight of time zone differences, such as when a person in New York sends a text at 9 a.m. to someone in San Diego, where it is 6 a.m. Even to others in your time zone, texting after office hours is disrespectful. If it’s an absolute emergency, start with an apologetic explanation. Otherwise, send an email to explain why you will be sending a text to arrive during early business hours in the morning.
When you’re on the receiving end of a text or email, common courtesy requires an acknowledgment as quickly as possible or practical. At the minimum, responding with a “thumbs up” emoji lets the sender know you’ve seen their message. When texting for business purposes, get to the point quickly and keep the digital conversation as brief as possible, allowing the person(s) on the other end to get back to work.