Keep the suggestions rolling in please ladies! This time I have been asked to attempt a post about texting etiquette in friendships. This is a challenging post for me to write because in current times, texting and communicating via email and instant messaging services is rampant, normal and expected. I fall victim to it just the same as everyone else does, and sometimes find myself impatiently waiting for a response! It is called instant messaging for a reason. If I wanted to wait a week for a reply I could send a letter in the post, right? Haha These services have added such value to our lives and simplified the communication process…..
However, the whole process also makes us a slave to our phones, right? You know it does! Added to this is the introduction of “read receipts” and indications when someone has been online but chosen not to read your message. Thanks for the extra anxiety with information that is actually none of my business Facebook! Lol These features have done nothing to enhance the quality of my communications or my friendships! Actually I think I preferred sending an email and never knowing if it had reached the other person or if they had been online to check their messages, let alone read it! To the sender, even if their enquiry is not of any particular urgency, lack of response to their message can feel like a slap in the face or a direct snub, as though they spoke to you on the street and you ignored them?! Harsh.
On the other side off the fence though, there is the receiver. The receiver may have a multitude of valid reasons for not responding to you – most of which have nothing at all to do with you. They might be in the middle of a family dinner, sharing an intimate moment with their partner, or be doing any other valid thing that people do with their time. If you saw them doing these things with your own eyes, you probably wouldn’t reach out to them in that moment because it is intrusive, but because we can’t see them, we make the mistake of assuming they are available and willing to engage and then take it personally when they don’t.
Consider this: The sender sends a communication at a time that is convenient for themselves and the receiver has the freedom to respond in the same manner. Simple.
I have been the receiver caught at an inopportune moment. There have been times when I have not read messages because I know they are lengthy and I don’t have time to read and respond in the manner consistent with the expectation of my friend. There have been times when I did read the message and thought to myself “I’ll respond to that later” then forgotten to do so, and there was now no little red message flag reminding me! Damn it!! Or there have even been times when I have prompted a conversation at a time I was willing and ready to engage and not received a reply until much later when I was no longer free to continue the conversation that I myself initiated!
The other issue I have experienced is that sometimes an innocent text becomes a conversation that neither person really has the time or the desire to engage in. As a writer by nature I struggle to keep my messages brief, and I know this can be overwhelming to the recipient. (I’m working on it! Lol)
While texting and messaging have their place, let’s not forget the best way to have a conversation is face to face or over the phone as a close second. My pointers for texting etiquette are:
- Keep it brief, direct and to the point.
- · Don’t expect instant reply and don’t take it personally if you don’t get one – the other person is busy. Trust me. Allow 48 hours minimum before you message them again.
- Never sit by your phone waiting for a reply, put the phone down and engage in your life. Stop over thinking it.
- If you really are worried about them – call them.
- Keep conversations over text to a minimum – 10 messages or less if you can. If it takes more than this call them or arrange to meet up.
- If it is urgent or important, call them, or at very least mention that in the message and politely request an urgent response; then follow up by other means if it isn’t forthcoming.
- Do not cyber stalk them to see if they read your message or not; or force them to justify their time to you. Nobody owes you an explanation, though you have to accept any you are offered at face value. If you don’t believe them the relationship has bigger problems than texting.
- If the person frequently ignores your attempts at communication - they probably don’t want to talk to you. Stop contacting them. You don’t NEED to understand why although I know you WANT to. Accept it and move on.
- Judge their level of interest in engaging. If you are being met with 2 worded answers, end the conversation, don’t keep pushing for more engagement.
- If you must, let them know that you are busy but will reply later…. Be specific, for example “I will respond after I put the kids to bed at 7.30pm” –then remember to do so. If you forget own up and apologise as soon as you realise.
- Make time to see your friends in person. Then you will know for sure that they are willing and available to engage and you are not intruding on other things.
- Don’t disrespect people’s time when they are with you by being glued to your phone speaking to everyone else.
- Never message out of boredom, or if you actually have nothing to say.
- Never respond to 3am booty call texts, and don’t send them either.
- Trust the good intentions of your friends and hope that they trust yours. Nobody means to be intrusive or hurtful.
- You don’t owe anyone a communication and nobody owes you one either.
- Remember that tone of voice, facial expressions and other non verbal cues are not present and your message may be misunderstood or construed differently that you intended. Be clear. Use punctuation. Avoid all caps as it is texting equivalent of "yelling." Arguments should not happen via written form. What you say will be forever recorded and used against you.
- Proof read your message before you press send! Why?... Auto-correct. That's why! Unless you meant to call your friend Poppy "Poopy!" True Story! haha and that's a pretty mild but still amusing example!
- Spend time on the people and things that make you forget about your phone.
Your Best Friend ForNever