I admit it. I am not a huge football fan. But many of my seminar participants enjoy the game and I will use football stories to illustrate learning points. Consider the following recent headlines about Vince Young, the Tennessee Titans quarterback, who texted an apology to his coach. They illustrate that texting is not always the appropriate way to communicate.
• Titans coach not impressed with Young apologizing via text
• Young texted apology, says Fisher, who'd prefer face-to-face
• Former Titans QB offers great apology… in the worst format possible
Texting can be an unobtrusive way to contact someone, and a fast and informal way to exchange information. Yet, if you are texting colleagues, bosses or employees, you want to be professional. Follow these suggestions so your texting is suitable for business:
1. Don’t text an apology. As Vince Young learned, many people prefer a personal discussion. Apologize in person, when you can. If that is not possible, the telephone is the next best alternative.
2. Give negative feedback in person. Same reasoning as above. But you can send good news via text. This way the person receives the information immediately.
3. Be cautious if changing meeting times or venues in a text. The attendees may not have checked their phones in time.
4. Don’t quit your job in a text. Speak to your boss. You don’t want to burn your bridges. You may need a reference in the future.
5. Chose your words carefully. Be aware of your tone. You may sound harsher than you intended.
6. Be careful with abbreviations. Using short cuts has become more common in the business world, but make sure it’s appropriate for u to be that informal! Plus, the receiver of the text needs to know their meanings. A colleague received “np” after thanking someone for his help. It took him a few moments to figure out that “np” meant “no problem.”
7. Don’t email from your phone and use text shortcuts. One woman emailed her thank-you note after a job interview from her phone, and inadvertently used abbreviations. She didn’t get the job as a result.
8. Don’t text under the table during a presentation. It’s noticeable and distracting to the speaker.
9. Don’t drink and text. You can easily say something you will regret later.