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To Text or Not to Text: Is Texting Appropriate in a Professional Setting?

Ours is an increasingly digital age with shifting social mores. With more connectivity, come more questions—and gaffes. Is texting colleagues perfectly acceptable or extremely uncouth? We offer some guidelines for when it is and isn’t appropriate:

1. Consider the company. Texting is going to be much more acceptable at a tech-savvy start-up than at a law firm. Regardless of the company, consider any privacy and disclosure guidelines. Take your cues from coworkers—follow norms rather than forging them.

2. Consider the relationship. Texting peers, particularly ones you interact with frequently, is going to be much more common than texting your supervisor. Realize that texting is inherently a more informal and familiar medium and use it accordingly.

3. Consider the situation. Are you getting together with the team after work? Text away. Maybe you want to discuss the office bracket. The more social the communication, the more texting is appropriate. Most of us don’t want our phones inundated with project-relevant texts. That’s what email is for.

4. Consider the tone. Negative messages should never be texted. Going to be late for an appointment? Do the other person the courtesy of calling. Feel like venting to a coworker about the email your boss just sent out? Resist the urge. Know the limitations of texting. It can be tempting to try to sidestep uncomfortable conversations via text, but it is never a good idea.

Err on the side of caution. As with most things in life, if you have to ask if it’s a good idea, it probably isn’t. Have your texting habits ever gotten you in trouble at work? We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.