Texting has become a normal part of everyday life. In fact, life without a smartphone has become such an anomaly that it’s hard not to find someone not glued to their phone. Sending a text message is the fastest form of communication, even faster than email and more convenient than a phone call. More lawyers are using texting as a way to talk to their clients, paralegals and coworkers during and after work hours. It’s easy, it’s fast, and everyone is using it. To help you not make any texting blunders, here are some etiquette rules to follow:
Texting simple reminders are fine. Sending a quick, “I’m running a little late”, or “Don’t forget the report” are normal text messages to send to a coworker or boss. There is no need to write a long text message about how your dog ate your shoe or you lost your car keys in the house. And if you receive one of these messages, keep the response simple also.
Use complete sentences, and try to sound as nice and respectful as possible. Text messages are prone to getting misinterpreted if you send short, staccato messages. You also don’t want to be the person who only sends, “OK” for every text they receive, or the bossy co-worker who texts commands. Complete sentences are always best, and adding “please” and “thank you” are even better.
Don’t fall victim to autocorrect. Always check your text messages before you send them. Autocorrect blunders are funny, and iPhones are known for having hilarious autocorrect mistakes. However, it can be embarrassing when texting a partner or client and seeing a mistake post-sending.
Don’t text about serious topics. Like we said before, text messages can be misinterpreted. This can be especially true for topics that are serious. Since you cannot see the person, you may not how the recipient may feel about the subject since you can’t read their body language. A person feeling upset is more likely to misread or misinterpret a text, which can make matters worse. For serious topics, calling is a better option.
Avoid abbreviations. You should always spell out the words completely. This means no “u”, “LOL”, “BRB”, “np”, “BTW” or “2day”. Texts to clients and coworkers should be formal in the same way an email is always in formal tone. In fact, some people may not know the meaning of these abbreviations or use savvy abbreviations themselves. To avoid possible confusion, always write out the words.
Don’t follow suit. If you have a coworker, paralegal or client who texts very informally, don’t respond with informal language back. Continue texting with complete, structured sentences, with no memes or emojis. Staying professional is always most important.
Never text last minute cancellations. There is a chance the person won’t see the message for a number of reasons. Maybe they were on the phone, driving, on the train, etc. Time sensitive messages should always be dealt with over the phone.
Work related text messages should always be treated with the utmost formal tone. Just because it is a fast way to communicate does not mean formality and grammar rules should go down the drain. As a lawyer, staying professional, even when using a more informal, fast communication method, is key to being able to maintain professionalism and keep up with new age trends.