How to text your boss

Everybody knows that different registers in language exist. Since primary school, they teach you how to manage simple conversations, by using common sentences and expressions that could help you in easy circumstances. Then, as you grow up and your relationships become more complex, the need for a higher knowledge of the language rules becomes more prominent as well.

With the awareness of the existence of specific contexts in which you are not allowed to use informal expressions, you start looking for a different type of phrases that better suit the situation. The most immediate and common context to which we could refer now is – without any doubt – the working one.tie-690084_640

Regardless of what kind of person your boss is, it is clear that you can’t address him in the same way you would a friend of yours. You should be polite, formal and as respectful as you can be. Speaking to him by using slang or idioms could cause his disappointment, since in such a context you are supposed to be able to manage both the formal and informal registers, and to make the proper distinctions. What could help you in this sense, are the means through which you can experience the formal sphere. The formal register is usually employed in letters, emails and sometimes phone calls. There will probably be no problems in emailing your boss, but what if he asks you to send him an sms to communicate something urgent?

We are used to texting our friends, our relatives, our partner, sisters or brothers: all people whom we know well and with whom we feel free to be ourselves. This also implies using specific sentences, full of abbreviations, idiomatic expressions and emoticons that often break grammar rules or ignore correct syntax. We usually don’t mind, because the nature of an sms is to be short, immediate and – why not – funny!

Obviously, the situation will be different if we have to text somebody else, someone that doesn’t expect us to be so friendly. That is the case of your boss. Let’s consider now this hypothesis: it’s a busy day and your boss suddenly goes away from the office because he has something urgent to do. At the same time, he has to be careful not to forget something important – maybe relating to a client or some news he is waiting for. So, he asks you to remind him of this through an sms. What would happen is that you should try to combine formal language with informal means of communication. Although it could seem strange, is not impossible at all. Don’t panic: keep calm and follow these simple tips:smartphone-1894723_640

  1. DO NOT start your sms as if it was an email: it must be short, without useless introductions or paragraphs.
  2. DO NOT use emoticons and slang: you could look like a shallow person, closer to a teenager than a professional.
  3. DO NOT use abbreviations: even if they make the message shorter, it could also be less comprehensible.
  4. DO introduce yourself: your boss will immediately know who is texting and why.
  5. DO include all the information he is waiting for: it makes no sense to send one thousand messages of five words each.
  6. DO always sign off the sms: this will make your message politer and will make you seem feeling comfortable with the situation.


by Giovanna Tranchese


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