All month long we’ve been encouraging a return to civility on DoSayGive with our “P’s, Q’s, & What to Do” series. From social occasions to social media we’ve enjoyed this little manners refresh so much and hope you have as well! Today we’re detailing how to have good manners when emailing, texting, and making phone calls. These are things we teach in our teen girls’ etiquette e-course — but it’s important for adults to know as well!
Be considerate in the company of others. In essence, be present. This means not answering your phone in the middle of a conversation, meal, or any other social setting (unless it’s an emergency). It also means not talking loudly so as not to disturb those around you. Space out from others if possible.
Don’t put your phone directly on the table. First of all, it’s not sanitary. Second, it can distract you from being present at the table. If you need to keep your phone near for safety reasons (i.e. you don’t want to miss the babysitter’s call), keep it on your lap or visible in your handbag.
Make sure your phone is on silent during church, meetings, weddings. Even vibrate mode can be distracting in these settings.
Identify yourself. When calling someone on the phone for the first time, or the first time in a long time, identify yourself when the person answers. “Hi, This is Kaitlyn Pierce.” Always use your last name.
Use proper grammar. If someone calls asking for you, the correct response is, “This is she,” not “This is her.”
Identify yourself. If you are texting someone new, or for the first time in a long time, identify yourself at the beginning of the text. This saves both parties the embarrassment of having to ask who the other person is!
Keep messages brief. If it becomes too wordy or complicated, a phone call is probably in order.
Respond in a timely matter. Unless it’s an urgent matter, a text does not require an immediate response. But you want to be thoughtful about your response time. Scrolling back through texts at the end of the day is a habit that will prevent you from being glued to your phone constantly, while still allowing you to respond in a timely manner. If you forget to respond (it happens!), a simple, “I’m so sorry it took me so long to bet back to you,” goes a long way.
Pick up the phone if there’s a miscommunication. Sometimes things just don’t translate well over text. Maybe something that was meant to be funny ends up hurting someone’s feelings, or something you write doesn’t come off the way you had intended. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always best to pick up the phone.
Don’t text anything inappropriate or hurtful. As we tell the girls who take our etiquette course: If you don’t want the whole world to see something, then don’t text it!
Never respond in anger. If something in a text upsets you at any point, it’s best to put your phone down and leave the room. You never want to respond to someone in anger or text something you might regret. Because, remember that once it’s out there, you can’t get it back. Your response could change if you wait a little while, so give yourself the grace to do that!
Be polite and to the point. Brevity is key to a thoughtful email as you don’t want to take up too much of someone’s time. Nor do you want to leave them scratching their heads wondering what you are trying to ask with your email. It’s also important to note that tone can sometimes be hard to decipher over email. So reread before sending just to make sure the tone of your email doesn’t come across as curt.
Use proper formatting. Especially in professional emails, make sure to have a proper greeting and closing and address people properly.
Don’t flood people’s inboxes unnecessarily. If you’re on a group email and have a question that doesn’t apply to everyone, email someone directly.
Check your CCs and BCCs. So many cringe-worthy scenarios can be avoided just by double-checking that you’re not replying to everyone on an email chain!
Respond in a timely manner. As with texts, you want to respond promptly out of thoughtfulness. Responding to emails within 24 hours of an email is a good rule of thumb, unless it’s the weekend, then waiting until Monday is understandable. But inevitably there are times when an email gets pushed down or we just forget to respond. In that case, it’s important to still respond (don’t ghost someone!) and apologize for your tardiness.
Note: Many of my small business friends set boundaries for emails based on their work schedules. They will have an automated response with their office hours or an average email response time. Setting boundaries — personally and professionally — can be healthy. Just make sure to politely communicate those boundaries.
Yes, we are talking about digital etiquette today but we can’t leave out the timeless act of a handwritten note. A lot of people think a written card or letter is a lost art, but I am not one of them! When we pause for a minute in our busy day to thank someone or just to let them know we are thinking of him or her, it can mean so much. Did you know we have a FREE download that tells you exactly what to say in thank you notes, sympathy cards, and more? You can download this free note-writing guide here: