Phone and Texting Etiquette: Tips for Better Communication

When I was a teenager, my neighborhood held an annual etiquette night. 

It worked like this: Teens from the community would be treated to a three course dinner, with each course taking place at a different house around the neighborhood. During each course, the owner of the house would give a few lessons on etiquette—often leading by example. We’d learn the proper way to use dinnerware, how to make good conversation, and why Troomi is the best cell phone for kids (we didn’t really talk about that last one, but I highly recommend checking out the linked post anyway).

At the time, we laughed about etiquette night, but looking back I’m glad I learned some tips. They have helped me in so many situations—including situations involving technology.

While you may not think that technology has some etiquette rules, it does! This is especially the case when it comes to texting. For new phone users like our kids, it can be hard to answer the question, “What is the proper email and messaging etiquette?” 

Well I’m here to answer just that. In order to help parents of new emailers, callers, and texters answer that question, Troomi has put together a nifty little etiquette guide to help you help your kids know how to use their phone and communicate to the best of their ability. 

Let’s talk about email etiquette

Email is an interesting beast. We use it regularly for business and professional communication but rarely for casual conversation. As such, these tips might be more useful for your teens who are learning to write emails to teachers or the boss of their after-school job.

What are the five email etiquette rules?

  • Include a clear, direct subject line. A subject lets your reader know what the email is about before they read the entire thing. This is especially useful when your kids are emailing teachers. Teachers get an avalanche of emails every day, and a clear subject line helps them keep organized!
  • Use a professional salutation. Unless you’re emailing a friend or family member, don’t begin your email with an informal greeting like “hey” or “yo.” Stick with a professional salutation like “Hello” or “Dear insert-teacher’s-name-here.”
  • Avoid using informal language (unless you’re emailing a friend). Just as you shouldn’t use informal language in an email’s greeting, avoid using it in the rest of the message. Keep it professional!
  • End the email with a signature. When you’re writing a letter, you never forget to sign it at the end, right? The same goes for email. Grammarly has put together a great list of nine ways to sign off your emails. Click here to check it out!
  • Make sure you don’t hit “reply all.” I can’t emphasize this one enough! When you’re responding to an email, double check to make sure you clicked on “reply” instead of “reply all.” Otherwise, everyone the original email was addressed to will receive your response!
  • End the email with a signature. When you’re writing a letter, you never forget to sign it at the end, right? The same goes for emails. If your teen needs a little help knowing how to appropriately and effectively end an email with a stellar call to action, check out this great article from Hunter.

What is telephone etiquette?

The other day, one of my friends claimed that talking on the phone is a dying art. I couldn’t disagree more! While some people prefer to text, I would much rather pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone. There’s so much less chance for miscommunication that way!

Phone etiquette is so important if you’re going to have a successful phone call. What are the four e’s of telephone etiquette?

  • Exchange greetings. When you first pick up the phone, don’t forget to say “hello,” or something along those lines. If you start a phone conversation without a greeting, you risk sounding gruff and offending the person on the other line. 
  • Enthusiastic. While the person on the other side of the phone may not be able to see you talk, they can definitely hear you. Try to avoid sounding annoyed or bored while on the phone. Instead, be an enthusiastic participant in the conversation.
  • Enunciate, or speak clearly. Phone lines aren’t the most reliable things. The audio quality of your phone call may not be as crisp as you’d like, and words can get jumbled if you’re mumbling. To avoid any miscommunication, make sure you speak as clearly as possible! 
  • Use your Ears and listen! Since you’re not face-to-face with the person you’re talking to, it can be easy to let your mind wander and forget to pay attention. Don’t let this happen! Listen to the phone call and be an active participant!

Texting Etiquette

Compared to email and phone etiquette, responding to text messages etiquette is a lot more informal. 

Here’s a brief list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re texting away. First, the dos:

  • Reply promptly! Everyone has that friend that ghosts and doesn’t respond to texts. Don’t let that friend be you!
  • Be patient. While it’s good etiquette to reply promptly, some texters may not be as up to date on their etiquette as you, dear reader. Give them some time to respond!
  • Keep your texts short. Texting is an informal, easy way to communicate. Unless you are explaining something in detail, keep your texts concise and to the point.
  • Use an emoji or two! I love emojis. They’re an awesome way to express emotion and keep the text fun. Go ahead, add a few to your next text!

Now for a list of don’ts:

  • Don’t send your text before proofreading! Check for any typos or weirdly worded sentences.
  • Don’t respond with “K.” Who would have guessed that one letter could be so harsh. While we should keep our texts brief, we don’t want them to be terse. You may send the wrong impression.
  • Don’t overuse emojis! One or two emojis is fun and zesty, but too many emojis in one text? Overwhelming! 

Don’t text when you shouldn’t, like in a theatre, class, or when driving. This last tip is one of the most important! Texting is so quick—almost too quick. It can be tempting to pull out your phone and respond to a text right away, especially when we’re driving. Don’t do it! Wait until you are in a stationary and safe place before you respond to a text. Waiting to send that text could save countless lives in the long run.