Remote workers usually don’t have the option to win over their clients or business collaborators in person. All you’ve got are messaging and calling. Messaging is the trickiest method of communication because the reader can’t assess your tone of speaking. They will form an image of you (or your company) from that string of words they find on their screen.
In order to make a good impression, close more deals, and strengthen your business relationships, you need to be professional and respectful when messaging. Lack of messaging etiquette can raise unnecessary issues that will reflect badly on your business. Don’t let that happen.
With the following messaging etiquette tips, you’ll learn all the basics about respectful and professional messaging. Let’s get started.
1. Choose an Appropriate Communication Method
If you want to start a conversation with a client or business collaborator and you haven’t yet agreed on the method of communication, be careful what you’ll choose. With numerous options out there, you can easily fall into the trap of starting the communication on a less professional platform.
As useful as messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, or Facebook Messenger are, they are mostly used for personal communication. Unless the person on the other side of the conversation has stated that they want to communicate through such a channel, avoid them. Opt for more professional platforms such as:
- Google Hangouts Chat
These apps offer single messaging, group chat options, file sharing, video conferencing for remote meetings, the possibility of integration with other apps and platforms, etc. Many businesses already use apps like this, so they will be familiar with the interface and used to all the useful features.
2. Use Appropriate Greetings and Goodbyes
Messaging is less formal than e-mailing but if it’s used for business there are texting etiquette you should respect. In business, you’ll hardly reach a level of closeness when it’s okay to write “What’s up”, “I’m out” and similar. Regardless of the method of communication, some level of professionalism needs to be present always.
Greet the recipient with “Hello”, “Good morning,” “Good evening” and always inform them when you’re leaving the chat. Disappearing like a ghost without saying goodbye will leave the recipient waiting for response endlessly.
Also, just popping up without any greeting is unacceptable. You may be picking up where you left off yesterday, but you should still greet the people in the chat. Starting the conversation with requirements and orders can turn you into the least favorite person in the chat.
3. Provide Prompt-Responses
Isn’t it irritating when some read your message and simply ignores it? In business communication, speed is everything. If you don’t respond promptly you can seem uninterested or careless. And you don’t want that.
During your work hours, acknowledge and provide an answer to the message as quickly as you can. It will show your dedication and seriousness in business.
When you get caught up in some other work, don’t just read the message and think that you’ll respond later. Not only can you forget to answer, but that “seen” notification without any response will annoy the recipient. Whenever you don’t have the time to answer the message, acknowledge that you’ve read it and reply that you’ll send an answer a bit later.
4. Stay Away from Multi-Messaging
Sending messages in a word-per-word manner can be fun among friends, but the work environment isn’t a place for that. One thought should be kept within one message. Cutting it off in multiple segments is unnecessary and unprofessional.
Over-replying can be overwhelming and hard for the recipients to pick up the thread. Facebook’s study “The Art of Digital Messaging” has reported that 37% of global respondents deemed it bad etiquette to over reply.
Longer content can be separate in different messages, however, creating different paragraphs within one message can be a safer solution. You’ll avoid the possibility that someone will swoop in and break your thread with questions and responses.
5. Be Aware of Different Time Zones
Imagine waking up and seeing ten messages from your business partner or colleague. While you were sleeping they’d been sending you one message after another, questioning your absence, and demanding an instant answer. That would annoy, wouldn’t it?
The ability of global cooperation that the digital era has enabled us is great. However, we have to adapt to this concept. If you are talking to someone from a different country or continent you have to be mindful of their time zone.
Don’t ask for a quick answer or urgent help when it’s 2 a.m. in the recipient’s country. In fact, don’t message them at all. You can use apps such as World Time Buddy to keep track of the time zone in multiple locations.
Working from home doesn’t mean that a person has to be available 24/7. Everyone deserves some privacy and disturbing others at an inappropriate time isn’t very professional.
6. Pay Attention to Cultural Differences
A potential speed bump in global collaboration is the lack of knowledge of cultural differences. The digital age has enabled cooperation with talented people from around the globe but it is up to us to maintain those relationships.
If you are messaging with someone that is from a different culture, you should do some research on their traditions, cultural background, language, polite manners in that country, etc. The difference can be huge and you can easily insult the recipient with something simple like a lighthearted joke.
Just to be safe, avoid taboo subjects and controversial topics such as politics and religion. That’s dangerous ground to walk on in any country.
You can also check the dates for the most important religious holidays and cultural events in their country. In that way, you’ll know not to bother them on those days. Showing respect with small actions such as those will take you a long way.
7. Be Direct and Clear
Messaging is supposed to be concise so keep your message content at a minimum. Deliver the information directly and be clear about your expectations, requirements, and proposition.
Unless it is necessary for you to send an elaborate message, leave the longer conversations for audio or video calls. Messages should be short and sweet. There is no need for long introductions and beating around the bush. Aim for efficiency and productivity that comes from concise and clear messages.
8. Avoid Sarcasm and Irony
Sarcastic jokes and ironic responses can easily be wrongly interpreted. Before you know it, your sarcastic humor will lead to disbalance in your business relationship. Considering that people can’t hear your tone of voice or see your face in messages, avoiding sarcasm and irony is important.
Even if you get closer to your colleagues or partners, you should still remember that you are a working professional. Making jokes and being friendly can be acceptable in some situation, however, you should stick to safe humor that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Business is business, and you don’t want to lose clients or colleagues because of something silly as sarcasm. The problem with it is that jokes can be seen as attracts or insults and in seconds everything can go downhill.
9. Proofread Your Messages
Whether your texting, messaging, emailing, or sending a message in a bottle, if the recipient is somehow related to your business, there is no room for spelling and grammar mistakes. Poorly written messages will leave the recipient puzzling if you are illiterate or just careless. Either way, their opinion of you won’t be the greatest.
In professional communication, you need to present yourself in the best light. To do so, your messages need to be free of any catastrophic grammar and spelling mistakes. They aren’t just hurtful for your reputation but they can also create misunderstandings.
Before you send any message (even if it’s a three-word message), proofread it. It will only take a few seconds of your time, but it will mean a lot for your business communication. Proofreading is one of the most important rules of appropriate business messaging behavior.
When sending longer messages or informal business proposals, you can team up with professional writers or editors that can revise your message. Writing companies such as TrustMyPaper have affordable editing services and a variety of experts in different fields. The expertise of professional editors and writers can help you perfect the message.
10. Know When It’s Time to Pick up the Phone
Some conversations can’t be properly conducted through messages. It is up to you to assess when you need to give someone a call instead of message them. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable with calling others, but sometimes you’ll have no other choice.
Long conversations should be left for audio or video calls. Serving such information through messages can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s why giving someone a call is the only solution in certain situations.
Aside from more elaborate topics, you should call your colleagues and partners when you can’t seem to come to an understanding through messages. If you’ve been trying to explain something unsuccessfully, suggest scheduling a call to clear that out. You’ll save both of you valuable time.
Be Respectful and You’ll Get Respect
How you position yourself in conversations is how people will perceive you. Being respectful and professional will positively reflect on your business collaborations. That’s why messaging etiquette exists and that’s why it needs to be respected.