Text messaging is now ingrained in our lives. When it comes to bosses or supervisors, however, where must one draw the line?
Each boss and each company has different expectations. You will need to understand your boss and how he or she prefers to communicate. If you don’t know, err on the side of safety and use more traditional means of communicating—phone, memo or email.
Another option is to ask colleagues or your boss’ assistant if texting her is acceptable. The best option may be to be direct and ask the boss yourself: “Ms Smith, since you’re travelling today, should I text you once I have submitted the report to the client?”
Remember that texting is a public form of communication. That means a text can easily be seen by, or forwarded to, someone other than the intended recipient. Think of it this way: If you could post the message on a bulletin board, then it’s probably okay to send the message. If it’s confidential, don’t text it.
Cross-check: Ask your co-workers if sending text messages to your boss is acceptable.
Also, because texting is an informal form of communication, it’s ripe for the kind of spelling and grammatical mistakes that could reflect poorly on you. Be sure to proofread any text to a boss before sending. Sloppy mistakes in something as simple as a text can lead bosses to think your work might be sloppy too. While friends might overlook a mistake, your boss is left with an unprofessional impression of you.
Take care about using textspeak—those abbreviations that make it quicker to compose a message. While it may be quicker to compose a text message with abbreviations, your boss won’t thank you while she’s trying to figure out what you meant. Sending a message in code defeats the purpose of the communication. While your friends may enjoy decoding your abbreviations, your boss may be frustrated that she can’t understand what you’re saying. Along with textspeak, avoid sending emoticons to your boss.
Finally, texting during a business meeting or presentation is a sure way to signal that your attention is elsewhere. Unless you have been given the okay by the meeting leader, it’s best to turn off smartphones and other devices before the meeting begins.
©2010/THE NEW YORK TIMES
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