Here are tips for communicating politely and effectively via text message:
- Think Before You Send: Some things are better said in person, or at least via a phone call. Ashley S., a junior at Ohlone College in Fremont, California, says, “If you’re on a subject that’s particularly touchy, it’s probably best to either call or talk about it in person. [Via text,] emotions and feelings may be conveyed differently than you intend them to.” Conner L., a junior at University of Montana in Missoula, advises, “Watch the ‘keyboard courage.’ People say things over messaging that they would never have the guts to say to a person face-to-face.”
- Be Professional: You might have close friends with whom you can use emoticons, inside jokes, and less-than-perfect grammar, but since text messages can be easily misconstrued, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, pretend you’re sending a message to someone you would be embarrassed to offend, such as your boss or mom. And save the texting for friends and family. Don’t text instructors or supervisors unless they specifically request it.
- Make Face Time: There’s no problem with texting a friend to say you’re running late or to ask a quick question, but don’t let short conversations take the place of real relationships. Even if you’re far away, write letters, have video-chat dates, and make plans to see friends and family when you can.