3 Ways Texting Improves Communication Skills
Ever since texting became available to the public in 1994, people have been freaking out about the end times of language and communication.
“Five Ways Texting Hurts Grammar.” “Eight Reasons Texting Ruins Literacy Skills.” “12 Warning Signs Texting Is Destroying Language As We Know It.”
These are all headlines you’ve seen before.
Now it’s 2019, and (shocker) the Earth is still turning despite there being over 5 billion texters in the world.
In fact, the global literacy rate is the highest it’s ever been—it’s just that people are reading and writing on their smartphones instead of pen and paper.
Still, a few texting related myths remain.
- Texting ruins reading and writing skills.
- Texting makes communication less professional, and businesses don’t like it.
- Texting emotionally disconnects you from who you’re messaging.
I’m going to debunk each of these and show you how your communication skills can actually improve through texting.
3 Ways Texting Improves Communication Skills
1. Texting subconsciously teaches reading and writing skills.
Linguists consider texting it’s own language. As with any language, there are rules and writing concepts people use in texting (even if they don’t look like the traditional ones you were taught in school).
You as a professional, for example, know that you don’t text your significant other the same way you text your boss. There are different tones, audiences, and circumstances that will affect how you text someone, just like when you are speaking.
Solid texters practice the same skills a solid speaker would. And for these reasons, some teachers have begun using texting and mobile phones as a way to show students they’ve already begun reading and practicing writing skills without realizing it.
Here’s some writing skills you can begin consciously using when you text.
Timing: Consider the time and date you’re sending a message. You may want to wait until after lunchtime to send something information heavy, or save sharing bad news until after a big event or holiday.
Intent: When you’re texting someone a question, are you getting off topic and oversharing the circumstances of the question—or are you just asking the question?
Don’t get lost in the details. Always keep what you’re hoping to gain from the text in mind, so you’re not wasting your or someone else’s time.
Tone: This is a trickier one, since you can’t convey actual vocal tones in text characters. You can, however, cater your use of emojis and gifs to signal whether or not you’re approaching a conversation casually or professionally. This can go both ways as well.
Say, for example, that coworker you’re buddy-buddy with isn’t responding to all your messages with emojis like they normally do. That may be their way of saying they’re pressed for time today.
Audience: Are you texting with someone like your mom, or a customer? Because you’re not going to text them the same way.
You might share a joke that your mom appreciates for example, while you'll probably keep to the point and be a little more prim with the customer.
2. Texting facilitates fast and concise communication between professionals.
Only Millenials want to text with businesses? Maybe seven years ago.
Let’s drop some hard facts.
- 57% of Baby Boomers have a positive view of companies who text
- 89% of people want the option to text businesses
- 90% of people want businesses to text them instead of leaving voicemail
- Texting is the number one preferred method of customer service in the U.S.
Professionals are drawn to texting because it’s fast and concise—like how we talk in real life.
What do I mean?
Texts are broken up into chunks of 160 characters, so they’re always going to be short (compared to an email or voicemail).
Linguists have found that when humans are relaxed, we talk in packets of 7-10 words. The average 7-10 word chunk easily fits inside a single text.
So, the way we talk with friends is incredibly similar to the way we text!
This is what makes texting feel more intimate than email and voicemail (we’ll touch on this more later).
The quick and personal feel of a text can help businesses seal the deal on sales, or make a client feel cared for during customer support.
Here’s some ways you can begin texting professionally at your business.
Add SMS Chat to your website: Busy customers get overwhelmed searching your website for the information they need. Make things quicker and more personal with SMS Chat that’s easy for customers to spot.
50% of sales go to the first business to respond—because customers want to work with someone who can improve their situation ASAP, and texting’s fast communication lets you do that.
Streamline communication between coworkers: You need one place where everyone can reach each other quickly. An SMS platform like Text Request lets you group text all your coworkers at once, but with the perks of bcc (meaning you don’t have to see everyone’s response to an update).
Build an SMS subscriber list: Everyone likes feeling like a VIP, and with SMS subscriber lists you can treat your customers to VIP goodies like discounts and coupons.
Getting quick and concise alerts about the newest products on your phone—rather than in a lengthy email or press release—is always going to feel more personal and exciting. Afterall, 95% of text messages are opened within three minutes.
Check to see if your business number is eligible for texting: Your company wants the speed and intimacy of texting, but not having your staff’s individual cell phones available to customers 24/7 is also a priority. Luckily, your business number can also serve as the number you text with.
Check it out below!
3. Texting allows for more personal and empathetic communication.
Let’s go back to how texting is like its own language.
Every language has speech fillers that convey empathy and comradery (think “yo” or “eh”).
Images, gifs, and emojis have close to the same purpose in texting—they soften the conversation and make it personal. For these reasons, texting has become a preferred communication avenue for some doctors and mental health specialists.
For example, Crisis Text Line founded in 2013 has received and responded to over 75 million texts (as of July 2018).
Researchers say personal communication is 7% spoken word, 38% tone, and 55% body language. Texting allows us to tap into casual tone and body language (possibly more than any form of writing) through the use of abbreviations, images, and emojis.
Here’s some quick examples of how texted images and emojis can be used to communicate with clients.
- A mental health specialist introduces herself with a smiley face emoji at the end of her message and is four times more likely to elicit a response from her client.
- A patient who wouldn’t see her doctor for a rash, because it’s not “a big enough deal,” feels comfortable texting in a picture instead.
- A physician responds to a message using the same emoji her patient just used, so it’s clear the conversation is not automated.
- A crisis center uses emojis to figure out the needs of a client whose first language is not English.
Don’t stop researching!
Communication improvements are just one of the many things texting can bring to the table. From classrooms, to corporate offices, to even outpatient hospitals, there’s a ton of new mechanics texting can offer.
You just have to discover which work best for you.