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Common texting mistakes that could be hurting your career

Modern Hygienistmodernhygienist.com-2013-12-01
Issue 12

Ready to expand from the clinical to the business side of dentistry? Knowing how to communicate is key. Here’s what you need to know about the dos and don’ts of text messaging.

Ready to expand from the clinical to the business side of dentistry? Knowing how to communicate is key. Here’s what you need to know about the dos and don’ts of text messaging.

Career transitions mean you’ll need to learn new skills and communication skills are the most important to address.

Can you communicate in a corporate manner? Do you even know what that means? Let us fill you in a bit to help shorten the learning curve. So it won’t take you two jobs to find out you did something wrong let’s look at the most important brief communication to address: texting.   

The scenario

Imagine you’re driving on your way to an appointment, and because you’re right on time the railroad-crossing gate comes down and you hear the train whistle in the background, putting you in a long line of parked cars. It dawns on you this is a good time to contact Holly Hygienist at Meager Money Monopoly who you met at a recent event. Using your time productively, you write the following:

11: 50 a.m.: Good morning. I have a request for information. Our state of XYZ Dental Hygiene board has basically no money… hence the question that is comi (you run out of room, hit send and start fresh)

11:50 a.m.:  because of new laws??? For donations through companies? In any case I wondered if Wanda Worker could help us out or any other ideas…thanks. Meeting with (run out of room again, send next box)

11:50 a.m.: ng your way. We have not been able to find any speakers for Annual meeting in May.  Our reps are not even offering anything…

Reread what you just wrote. Can you make sense of it?  Holly will need note paper to address your text once she has deciphered the content and intent.  Is that how you want to develop your relationship?

Holly, in the meantime, is struggling through a massive project that developed a glitch that will take at least 10 calls to 10 people to iron out. Her other obligations are waiting in the wings and she’s really hungry. Now this text comes through with no context, no signature, no nothing.

If you were Holly your only options would be:

1.     Return text with a question mark and put you into her “time waster” category.

2.     Return text with a yelling smiley asking what it’s about and put you in her “time waster” category.

3.     Delete the text and return to work, feel guilty for the next few hours and remember the bad feeling next time she has an interaction with you.

You, on the other hand, are back to driving to your appointment. This kind of text can poison any business relationship, and abort any fledgling relationship you may be nurturing. The above message is for an email. If you have text on your phone you likely also have the ability to email.

More texts to avoid

So that’s an obvious example. What are some other shorter examples of text messages that will drive your boss and people you do business with crazy?

Come out of the blue with a short request:

You: What should we do about Lori?

Receiver: Lori who?

You: Lori wants a cat

Receiver: Lori who, a cat?

You: CAT scan, she’s having headaches and needs a scan from insurance

Receiver: do you have time for a call?

Another often placed bad text is the million text cluster or MTC:

6:05 a.m. You: Good morning
6:05 a.m. You: Did you have your coffee yet?
6:05 a.m. You: I’m going to the workout room
6:05 a.m. You: on the 2nd floor
6:06 a.m. You: to the right of the elevator
6:06 a.m. You: be there in ten


10:05 a.m. You: What’s the pw?
10:05 a.m. You: To the Meager Money Monopoly site
10:05 a.m. You: I’m driving and won’t be in front of my computer for 15 more minutes
10:05 a.m. You: maybe the login too
10:06 a.m. You: can’t remember it

Expect that you won’t get an answer plus you’re entered into the “time waster” category again. Unless it’s an emergency and there’s only one place to find that information, the head of the text receiver, just wait until you get to your source for information. To your boss or superior at work this makes you look disorganized or, worse, disrespectful of their time.

Before you send a text, think to yourself:

1.     What is the person on the other side of this text doing right now?

2.     Is this a good time for the receiver to get a text or just a good time for me to send one?

3.     Is sending a text going to clear something up for the receiver or start a frustrating volley?

4.     Would it be better as an email and a request for a phone call?

5.     Is it better to text a request for a call to talk about the information you’d be sending in a longer text?

Some don’ts about texting in the business setting:

1.     Don’t text a note that says you sent you an email or left a voice mail.

2.     Don’t ask a busy person for an email, password, phone number, login or Web address. It can wait until you get to your computer.

3.     Don’t ask about something that takes a big explanation like a schedule for an event or day

4.     Don’t ask for something that it would be really easy for you to find if you Googled it. Don’t text a picture of your dinner to anyone you work with

5.     Don’t use 20 separate texts to let someone know something

6.     Don’t try to make an elaborate plan via texting. Call instead.

More texting dos

1.     Keep it short

2.     Keep questions to yes or no type answers

3.     If you’re stuck in traffic let the other person know you’re going to be late and include the minutes you expect to be delayed

4.     If you send a long overly detailed text expect it to be deleted


Shirley Gutkowski and Beth Thompson are career coaches at CAREERfusion LLC. Members of CAREERfusion are offered skills building from computer to interviewing and networking with industry leaders looking for motivated and skilled people to hire as employees, or to work on projects like article writing, presentations, or multiple other things. CAREERfusion is in the opportunity business.

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