Four Things to Avoid When Texting Your Workmates


If you’ve used ICQ, MSN, or WhatsApp to communicate with your friends when you were in high school, it is most likely that you were born in the 80s, 90s, or 2000s. It also tells you how quickly communication technology has gradually developed in 30 years.

With the arrival of new technology comes new communication etiquette and norms. When your workmates started using WhatsApp, the majority has moved from using phone calls to setting up WhatsApp groups or even using Slack to connect with teammates.

Usually, you have a defined outline between your email and work email. However, with WhatsApp groups and Slack channels on your phone, you can now easily navigate into the new workplace communication setting especially in texting your teammates.

Here are four tips to avoid when texting your workmates:

1. Always be time-conscious

In using instant messages tools or texting your workmates, it is best to be aware of the time before you click or press the send button.

According to Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette expert your workmates carry their phones in bed. You don’t want to disturb them while they are sleeping more so if you want to share a business idea. Unless it is urgent, it would be best to message or text them the next day.

John Rampton, an investor agrees that it is a bad idea to text your workmates after work unless it is personal. It is more advisable that you e-mail them instead especially if it is work-related.

2. Don’t Expect Instant Replies

Excellent cross-team communication is a must to achieve unity in your workplace.

Slack allows instant sending of messages but this doesn’t mean that you should always demand instant replies. If there is pressure from your workmates to reply immediately, this can create a problem or misunderstanding. If you’re going to text a workmate during work hours, chances are they are busy or would like to keep the workplace and personal life apart.

Therefore, you should set a time to receive a response or give enough time for your workmates to respond to avoid stressing them out as your recipient is probably into other projects or attending a meeting.

Suzanna Kaye, a productivity expert shared that the ideal response time for a work-related text is within 12 hours. But if it is truly urgent, it is better to call your workmate instead.

3. Choose the right Emoji

Dennis Collins, a marketing director believes that emojis are visual communication tools that provide hints for your emotion and self-expression.

But whether emojis are acceptable or not in your work environment is still to be argued upon.

According to a 2016 survey about 80% of senior managers do not like using emoji in the workplace but 40% believe that it is acceptable to use depending on your situation.

On using emojis Sharon Schweitzer, a business etiquette expert recommended not using them, especially in the professional context. She stressed that if it is work-related everything should be kept professional and that is no emojis. But if it is just an ordinary chat about what’s for lunch, then you may use emojis.

4. Avoid using unfamiliar abbreviations

The purpose of using instant messaging tools is to enhance communication efficiency and to avoid confusion in your workplace. There should be a standard rule in using abbreviations because it can also create misunderstandings.

According to Whitmore, it is best that you take 30 extra seconds and type out each word rather than shorten it

Abbreviations are common in casual texts, but you have to think twice before using it in your text messages especially with your boss.

Usually, your boss and workmates are only familiar with abbreviations that are commonly used in e-mails like ASAP which means ‘as soon as possible’. However, to shorten ‘you’ into ‘u’ and ‘to’ or ‘too’ into ‘2’ or less popular abbreviations like ’SMH‘ which means ‘shaking my head’ is not professional at all.



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Sophia Wong

Brand and Marketing Strategist in Hong Kong, writes about career, job hunting and interview tips.

3 min read

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