Textiquette: The Etiquette of Texting

These days, many people would rather send a text than get a phone call. It’s faster, easier, and simpler to toss off a few lines than it is to go through the small talk necessary to get to the meat of a phone call. All of that convenience, however, still comes along with a few clear social rules–and making sure you understand the important ones will keep you from frustrating everyone you interact with via text. While the rules of texting might not have made it into an etiquette book yet, understanding proper textiquette will keep you from making a major social faux pas.

Watch the Mass/Group Texts

While sending out a mass “happy holidays” text or a single text announcing a new engagement or pregnancy can be tempting, avoid the urge to mass text arbitrarily. A few general rules of thumb:

  • Restrict mass texts to people who actually care about your news or wishes. That random contact you haven’t actually spoken to in a decade doesn’t need your pregnancy announcement!
  • Don’t start a group text when you know most of the people on the list will be in school or at work. There’s nothing more frustrating than a phone buzzing repeatedly when you can’t answer it.
  • Avoid sending mass texts to people who deserve a personal communication instead.
  • Control who you include in a group text list. Your parents and your best friend don’t necessarily need to be in a group text with the ten people you work with every day, most of whom they have never met.

The Basics of Responding to Messages

At some point, everyone has received a message that caused them to think, “Oh, I’ll answer that later,” then put their phone down and forgotten about it. If you’re guilty of regularly failing to respond to simple messages, however, it’s time to brush up on your textiquette! Keep these things in mind:

  • Try to respond as soon as possible to questions.
  • If you’re avoiding making plans with someone, be honest about your lack of desire (or ability) to attend instead of making them wait. This will give them the maximum amount of time to make other plans.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of responding to everyone else in the group or posting to social media while you’re ignoring a text message.

When Not to Text

It’s incredibly common today to see people sitting beside one another or across the table from one another, the entire group paying attention to their phones instead of each other. If you’re out with friends, these basic etiquette rules should apply to your phone usage.

  • Check your text messages and social media updates before meeting your friend–an extra five minutes in the car is all it should take. This will reduce temptation while you’re spending time together and allow you to be more fully present.
  • Avoid getting trapped in a text conversation while you’re out with someone else.
  • Make a habit of putting your phone down during meals and not picking it up again until everyone at the table is done eating.
  • If you’re expecting an important text, let the people you’re with know that you’ll be checking your phone for that information. Avoid looking at your phone unless it’s given you a notification.
  • If you answer a text, let your companions know who you’re talking to or a brief overview of the content when possible. Try not to send texts that can’t be shared with the people you’re with until you leave. 

Texting and Slang: Use With Care

Texting abbreviations and slang are fairly common. You don’t want to be the person who is constantly aware of your friends’ grammar–and comments on it–but if you’re going to use abbreviations or emojis, make sure you know what they mean. When in doubt, ask: you might prevent a major social faux pas simply by knowing what that abbreviation actually stands for.

What About Emojis?

Emojis, or the cute little characters available on most smart phones, can add a layer of depth to the conversation and help convey your meaning more effectively. A smiley face, a wink, or a heart can say much more than words. In general, emojis are a relatively safe choice that has gained in popularity as they’ve moved from keyboard characters constructed in such a way that they vaguely mimic human expression to actual pictures. Emojis, however, do have their time and place: keep them out of professional communications. 

Length Matters

When it comes to texts, you should usually keep things short and sweet–but not too short. A simple “k” is often frustrating to your recipient and can lead to an immediate end to the conversation. On the other hand, if you’re going to write an essay, you might be better off lifting your phone a little higher and making a call instead. Keep your text communications brief. If a conversation is extending excessively, consider swapping to a phone call or saving it until you get together in person. This is true whether you’re debating over plans or having an argument with your spouse in the middle of the work day. Keep in mind, too, that most people are more likely to skim long text messages than they are to read the entire thing, so the longer your message, the greater the likelihood that something will be lost in translation.

Paying attention to critical texting etiquette is the best way to ensure that your text conversations take place without frustrating either you or your recipient. If your texting device is broken, that frustration is likely already mounting. The good news is, we can help! Contact us today to learn how we can get your phone back in working order.