Considering that your personal and professional life largely depends on effective communication, being tactful will benefit you in many ways. Here are six habits to steer clear of when sending any text-based message. Some of these principles can even apply to your personal interactions.
1. Using Too Many Emojis
Emojis are fun to explore and very handy for quickly expressing a feeling or reaction. There is a limit, however, to how often you should use them. Be especially careful in a professional setting, because going far beyond smiley faces can make you seem immature.
But let’s be more specific. When talking to colleagues, stick to a few simple emojis and use them sparingly.
When addressing a customer, use nothing more than a single smiley face per message and only if you need to give the text a slightly warmer feel. Emojis, when applied right, really can inspire friendliness.
Treat acquaintances just as carefully. Until you know them well enough, it’s best that you keep the emojis to a minimum.
If you’re texting a friend, on the other hand, there’s less pressure. Solving each other’s picture-based messages could even be fun, just not all the time.
Get to know all the popular emojis and their definitions. Then you could create a texting game for your group of friends using nothing but emojis. This is the only appropriate overuse of emojis.
2. Writing in All Caps
Here’s another bad habit texters get into. The very look of CAPITAL LETTERS suggests shouting, so reading an all-caps email is jarring to say the least. Never overuse capital letters, especially in a professional context.
Making sure your message is calm and clear sends a much better signal. It shows that you care about the recipient’s reading experience and it encourages them to respond in the same respectful way.
But then we also have trends like alternating caps. While this pattern has a specific purpose (to express sarcasm), it’s very hard on the eyes, so avoid using it or anything similar as much as possible. In fact, a single emoji would be a far better choice.
3. Using Annoying Expressions
Words can really cut the wrong way when you least expect them to. And when many people agree that specific phrases are offensive, it’s a good idea to stop using them. If you’re a manager or someone in a very social position, the last thing you want is to push people away.
Avoid using expressions like the ones in the video above or the list below. They may seem innocent, but they can come across as demeaning, passive-aggressive, and downright annoying:
- “With all due respect…”
- “In my opinion…”
- “You’ll get there…”
- “You can do better than that…”
- “It’s common sense…”
- “It is what it is…”
The list goes on and on, so it might be worth looking further into the matter of annoying phrases with the help of sources like Reader’s Digest. This way composing appropriate texts and emails will be easier and faster.
But avoiding offense also comes down to the basic principle of thinking before you speak, which applies to written interactions as much as anything else. Writing gives you extra time and space to think, so use the opportunity to take care of how you express yourself.
4. Sending Too Many Messages
Another aspect of good communication is finding the right boundaries. Don’t expect to get an immediate response, for example. And don’t demand one either.
If you’re in a hurry, say so as politely as possible. If there’s no response within 24 hours, either send a diplomatic follow-up or move on.
Aggressive messaging is a big no-no in professional interactions, whether with coworkers or customers. You might say that clear calls-to-action are key to marketing campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you should fill your newsletters with them.
Ultimately, remember that people have lives and pressures of their own, so just be respectful and patient when writing your text or email to someone.
5. Sending Messages at the Wrong Time
Timing also counts as tact. As I already mentioned, you can follow up on a previous email, but don’t overwhelm the recipient with several new messages in a short space of time.
No matter how polite you are, it’s a show of impatience that will put them off. If you run a business, you can lose customers this way.
Additionally, if you communicate with people through SMS or WhatsApp, be wary of what time you send your messages. You might be awake at six in the morning, but not everyone else is.
Set yourself appropriate timeframes for texting, especially with work-related people. After all, bothering them late at night could lead them to mute notifications and miss subsequent important messages. Self-restraint is vital to good social skills.
You could also make the most of modern solutions by learning how to schedule texts with Google Messages. Outlook and Gmail let you do the same thing with emails. Many such smart methods can put quickly your communications in order.
6. Poorly Structuring Your Messages
Alongside a message’s content, you also need to be careful with how you put it together. One major mistake when writing anything is to turn it into a block of text. Firstly, it deters readers on sight. Secondly, it’s easy to miss key details in all those words.
Make sure to break down your messages, especially long ones, into smaller chunks that are easier to absorb. Even better, use bullet points or a bold font to highlight important information.
In general, though, try to be brief. An endless email isn’t appealing. Alternatively, split it into separate interesting messages—but don’t send them all at the same time. For professional purposes, be smart and plan your communications ahead of time for the best results.
However, once again, there is a limit to how small your messages should be. When texting, for example, avoid Shatner style, which is when you use several texts to make up a single sentence.
It’s an extreme example, but a common trend, nevertheless. And, unless you want people to dread your messages, aim to make them to as pain-free to receive and read as possible.
Think and Research Before Composing Your Next Message
People can’t see your face or body language when reading your messages, so follow these tips to present these texts in their best possible form. That way you can avoid confusing or even insulting someone by mistake.
All details matter, from the expressions you use to the text’s structure. Caring about how an email or SMS comes across builds good relations, whether with friends, colleagues, or clients. But good written communication is only one tool when it comes to improving your email skills.
Want to get responses to your email messages in a different inbox? Here’s how to set up custom reply-to addresses.
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