Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top 10 Business Texting Etiquette Tips (Know Your Etiquette Series #1)

It's happened to anyone who has done business in the 21st Century.  You're meeting/talking/relating to someone eyeball to eyeball.  As you are in the middle of a sentence, you lose the connection with those eyeballs the second their smart phone alerts them that a text has been received.  In that instant, their attention is diverted as they pull out their phone to check the message.

I know I've been guilty of this in the past, and I know most people I meet with are equally guilty.

But I think we've jumped the shark on this one, and it's time to reign it in.

As our technology dependency grows, so does our need to establish etiquette rules on how we use our technology when we're relating to others live and in person.  When it comes to the issue of texting one person while needing to give your attention to another live and in-person, we need to set some standards.

Here's my Top 10 List on Texting Etiquette:

10.  During a meeting with multiple attendees, it is okay to check your texts.  That being said, make sure your texting behaviors don't interfere with the success of the meeting at hand.  A common way to handle the need to still be connected is to keep your phone on silent, then place it on the table in front of you.  When you see (not hear!) a text come in, take your phone off the table and place it in your lap.  No one else at the meeting needs to see what you're doing.  If you must answer the text immediately, do so "under the table" as well.  It makes things less obtrusive.

9.  DON'T carry on entire text conversations during meetings!  It's one thing to respond to a text during a meeting.  It's another to carry on an entire conversation.  Most of the time, the best way to respond to a text while in a meeting is to simply let them know you are, indeed, in a meeting.  Let them know you will get back to them as soon as you are free.  If the text is THAT urgent that you need to have an entire text conversation, excuse yourself from the room.  Don't come back to the meeting until you have completed your texting business.  BONUS TIP: STOP conducting entire conversations in text!  If you have to go back and forth more than 3 times....PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL THE PERSON!)

8.  In a one-on-one meeting, DO NOT check text messages.  It's just rude.  The person you are meeting with deserves your undivided attention.  Period.

7.  The exception to #8: You're expecting an urgent text.  If you feel that there may be a text that will need your immediate attention during the meeting, let the person you are meeting with know about it ahead of time.  A simple "I'm waiting for a response from a proposal I submitted earlier.  If it comes in, I'll have to respond right away" goes a long way.

6.  Set the precedence.  Stop responding to mundane texts immediately unless it's truly a convenient moment for you to do so.  A text that comes in on Monday that asks "Can you make it to the meeting on Thursday" isn't urgent.  Respond at your convenience, not the senders.

5.  DO NOT make yourself available 24/7.  No matter what, set your standards on downtime.  It's not healthy for you personally to stay connected all the time.  When it comes to business, I recommend disconnecting after 7pm every evening, and NEVER texting on Sundays.  If your career thrives on the weekends, then set up a different non-connected day.  You alone can know when it is best to disconnect.

4.  Set expectations.  Once you've established the "disconnected" times that work best for you, let your business associates and clients know.  I knew a very successful real estate broker who kept Sundays as his family time.  He let every new client know that he was unreachable on Sundays, and gave them his assistant's contact information to have on hand should any needs arise on a Sunday.

3.  Don't judge others.  We're still in the process of establishing a set of rules that is widely accepted.  For example, let's say I'm in a situation that I would recommend refraining from texting (like in a one-on-one business meeting) and the other person receives an alert that they've received a text.  I simply smile and say, "If you need to answer that, go ahead.  I'll wait."  Usually, they respond by saying something to the effect of, "Oh, no.  It's fine, I'm sorry.  I forgot to put my phone on silent."  Sometimes they take me up on it, and that's okay too.  I've given them permission, and so it's not rude.  This way I'm not left thinking the person insensitive or disrespectful of my time, and they are left thinking I acted graciously by putting their needs above my own.  Win-win.

2.  In a large conference or seminar, expect people to be on their smart phones!  Many times, it may look like they're texting, but they're not.  They may be taking notes, pulling up a website referred to by the speaker, or tweeting key points the speaker is making.  Like it or not, smart phone use during large conferences is here to stay...even in church!  I know many people who no longer bring their Bible to church, but look up a digital version on their smart phone to read the scriptures.  Time to accept that these are the new rules for the digital age.  If you feel that this is one aspect of smart phone usage you still can't accept, please refer back to point #3.

1.  Engage the Golden Rule.  "Treat others as you would like to be treated" applies to all aspects of life, including texting.  Before you check and/or answer that incoming text, ask yourself how you would feel if the person(s) you were with did the same. 

That does it for my top 10 list on texting etiquette.  Do you think I missed any?  Leave it in the comments below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Until Next Time, Jacki

1 comment:

Stanley said...

I'll definitely consider posting your tips in our office. Thanks!

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