"Have an idea for the open house at your downtown property."
"Great. But I’ll be out of town on business. Can you handle?"
"OK. Will call your assistant to help me. Need keys and voucher."
"Perfect. Call me later with details. I trust you!"

(Txtversation between two professionals familiar with each other.)

What you’ve just read is a snapshot of modern business communication conducted via short, concise text messages. This exchange represents a texting conversation, or txtversation. Notice how quickly an idea can be introduced and actions finalized in a matter of a few lines.

Using text messages in personal and professional relationships isn’t a new concept, but those who lack the knowledge of “text etiquette” have been hesitant to participate. It is difficult to ignore texting as a legitimate mode of communication in this day and age. However you feel about texting, people who were born and raised on mobile devise are texting natives. They are in positions of responsibility in the workplace and run their own organizations as entrepreneurs. While the telephone and good old face-to-face communication is still ideal for many idea exchanges, texting enables worldwide communication. Practice texting etiquette for appropriate idea exchanges in a professional environment.

To help you begin and sustain a successful ideas txtversation, here are some generally accepted texting etiquette practices and expectations:

• Stay in the comfort zone, including yours and theirs. It’s common for texters to be overly zealous in their texting habits because they can’t see the reaction of the recipient; they end up sending too many texts, too often. If you are getting little feedback from the person on the other end of your txtversation, reduce your texts to them to a similar level to their texts to you. Consider reducing your texting frequency and quantity. Your recipient may be otherwise occupied and unable to respond, or uncomfortable with engaging in texting about the subject. Pick up the phone. Resort to email. Wait awhile and try again. Or meet the person in person if you can.

• Keep it short (and sweet). The sweet spot for text message length is one sentence of 8-10 words (see sample txtversation above). This is as much as most experienced texters expect to get. While 160 characters is the technical maximum (at this time), at about 25 words, 160 characters is a really long text message. Even if you’re texting from a computer, try to keep your texts short by sticking to the key words.

• Know your audience. Some people prefer that you text them instead of sending an e-mail or leaving a voicemail. Why? Because it’s how they prefer to do business. If someone texts you regularly, consider using text messaging when you have a brief message for them. At the start of a new relationship, before you have a chance to understand their habits, your best bet is to communicate via traditional channels like e-mail and telephone.

• Keep your distance. As with the number of texts you exchange, match the tone of the texts you send to the tone of the texts you receive from each of your correspondents. Unless your recipient has clearly demonstrated that they are comfortable using abbreviations and virtual winks, refrain from sending them. In professional settings, complete sentences (short and concise) are most appropriate.

• Eschew obscenities. When your image is at stake and you want it to be a positive one, crude language is never the right approach. Remember, texts can easily be forwarded to other parties.

• Use informality, not sloppiness. In professional text messages, proper spelling and full punctuation are expected. For example, the txtversation at the beginning of this article could be between a boss and subordinate or two peers in a professional setting. For personal txtversations, it’s perfectly acceptable to use informal wording, fragments, and abbreviations (such as “u” for “you”).

• Support face-to-face interaction. If a topic requires interaction or nuance, such as negotiating contract terms, then suggest an in-person meeting or telephone conversation. A more appropriate time to text in negotiations could be at the end when you send, “All OK. Sign the contract!”

• Send the right message. Considering breaking up with someone or firing an employee? These are not the appropriate situations for communicating via text message. In fact, it would be a major faux pas to do so and could result in bad press or bad feelings about you and/or your company. Remember that your messages live on in your recipient’s phone or service provider’s server.

Now that you have some of the general principles of text messaging, you can hold your own ideas txtversations with business associates, friends and family. Text messaging not only adds to your options for communication; it also saves you valuable time as well as cellular minutes. You can also exchange text messages when other communication services are busy or unavailable. So what are you waiting for? Let your fingers do the talking and engage in idea txtversations!

Author's Bio: 

Sylvia Henderson is Chief Everything Officer (CEO) of Springboard Training—your springboard to personal and professional development. She is an author, workshop facilitator, speaker, and business woman. She provides people, tools and resources that focus on professionalism and work ethics (employability skills) and leadership...helping people & organizations show they are as great as they say they are.