Life & Tech: Texting Etiquette 101
Monday May 18, 2015

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The Simple Sophisticate, episode #38

The simplicity and unobtrusive nature of texting are two of the reasons I do appreciate this new form of communication in our modern world; however, if not mastered or understood, texting can indeed be obtrusive and actually weaken relationships. The key is to understand the basics (when and how to use this efficient option), and then use it selectively to maintain relationships (not build them) and to use it when better forms of communication are not possible (i.e. face-to-face or a phone call).

For example, one of the ways I thoroughly enjoy using texting is to text my significant other who I have already established a relationship with outside of texting to let them know I’m thinking of them. On the flip side, to receive such text is a wonderful boost in the middle of a mundane workday as well. Another example is texting someone when you are running late to ensure they know you’re on the way. Such a simple text is a respectful gesture that indicates honesty and thoughtfulness.

In the third and final part to the Life & Tech series, having covered cell phone and email etiquette so far, the undercurrent for each of them is to become the master. Each of these technological advancements were not even a form of communication a mere twenty years ago. And with that said, very few of us have seen it modeled. Therefore, we need to figure out an approach that strengthens rather than hinders a quality way of living.

Did you know that the Pew Research Center reported in 2011 that teenagers sent more than 3,200 a month? With 83% of adults carrying cell phones and 73% sending and receiving text, the studies have certainly proven, we rely on this form of communication heavily. So why not master it to improve our lives rather than ruin the quality of our relationships?

1. Recipients 

Who should we be texting? Especially when it comes to business, most business connections should begin with either face-to-face interaction, phone or email (depending upon where each party is located). Texting, by its nature is more informal, so be sure before you begin texting someone this is an option.

Personal relationships will vary. For quick and easy communication between friends and family, texting is a life-saver. When dating, depend upon quality interaction in person and over the phone before reverting to texting. It’s too easy to be someone we’re not when we text, and always ask yourself, “Am I relying on texting to build or maintain the relationship?” And if your answer is the former, stop texting and start spending quality time with the person.

2. Response Time

While certain people have certain rules, the truth of the matter is that because texting is convenient to do on the sender’s end doesn’t mean the recipient is adhering to the same schedule. Life can be busy, chaotic and unexpected events can occur. A common courtesy that I’ve seen done by those I’ve texted is that if they respond well after I’ve sent the initial text, they will let me know briefly why they weren’t able to communicate in a more timely fashion. However, I don’t expect this as it is none of my business, but if it is a significant other or your response time is out of the ordinary, this gesture is appreciated.

3. To Respond or Not to Respond

When in doubt, always respond. If you are wanting to establish or have established a close relationship with the texter, have fun with your responses, be open, playful and completely yourself. Each of us has a clear voice when we text and that can come through loud and clear. If we are trying to establish boundaries and don’t want the texter to push any further, answer with as few as words as possible: Thanks, Ok, Haha. Unless this is in a playful back and forth, the conversation usually will end. If someone is texting you and you do not want to build a relationship with them, do not respond. This is the primary reason a non-response is absolutely acceptable. In other words, do not play games. Stringing someone along via text is childish and a waste of time and energy. Remember, texting should be used for strengthening relationships and communication, not to tease or boost one’s ego.

4. Grammar

Texting is simple. So simple that it is easy to hit send before we’ve had time to edit and see what damage Autocorrect has done. And as we all probably know, we’ve seen some doozies from Autocorrect. While we want to make sure we convey ourselves as intelligent human beings, if the Autocorrect had too much fun, feel free to shoot a brief second text with the correction.

Also, refrain from acronyms or shortened cryptic text (unless that is your way of communicating with a certain individual). While that may have been fun in high school, as we know the lingo is constantly changing. And if we want to make sure we are clearly communicating, the safe way is to write directly. (Again, each texting relationship will be different, but when in doubt, spell completely and correctly.)

5. Put the Phone Down

Similar to using your cell phone, even though texting is much quieter, refrain from doing so in a movie, at a meeting or a performance, while driving, and especially when you are engaged in a face-to-face conversation. Just as answering your cell phone when you are communicating with someone in real-time is seen as clear prioritization, so too is receiving and responding to a text. A few other  “do not text” areas – uber late at night or extremely early in the morning (another reason to set up your do not disturb on your phone).

If you must text, be sure it is someone or about something that you are comfortable sharing with the group. The key is to make everyone feel comfortable and included. If you know you will need to be checking your phone due to emergency, let your company know in advance why you might be doing so.

6. Content

Since the tone can often be misconstrued when it comes to texting, keep the content short and simple: See you in 10 minutes! or Had a great time tonight. Thanks for meeting me! One way to view texting if we are to use it effectively, is to see it as the prelude or the follow-up to conversation, not the conversation itself.

When it comes to private, confidential, embarrassing or sad news, take the time to give it the attention such information deserves. Texting should be for light-hearted, casual and day-to-day communications rather than briefing someone on life-changing or highly-confidential information that if it fell into the wrong hands could be disastrous.

7. Don’t Forget to Introduce Yourself

If you are texting someone for the first time or someone who may not have your number, always be sure to introduce yourself in the first initial text: “Hi, this is Shannon Ables [then proceed with your text as usual].” I have received a few texts here and there from people who assumed I knew their number, and I had to double-check with my own text to verify who I thought it was (I wasn’t always correct.) Including such an introducing saves the recipient this embarrassment as it shouldn’t be placed on them in the first place.

8. Emoticon or Emoji

To use or not to use? With more emoji available than we can imagine, the options are endless for creating visual images in our texts. Whether you use a simple colon and a right parenthesis : ) (emoticon) or a full visual 🙂 (emoji), is entirely up to you and your style. My mom even has traversed into the land of emojis while I am still in the land of simple creatively used punctuation marks. However, if you are trying to appear professional or business-like, keep it simple, not playful. The key again is to convey a message. However you’d like to do that is up to you.

9. Group Texts

If you are sending the group text, make sure it is clear (and usually it does appear uniquely in our phones, but just in case it doesn’t) that you are sending a group text. If you are responding to the text, I am of the opinion to send directly to the sender unless you want everyone else to view your comment. If you do choose to respond to the group, keep it short and only respond once. Otherwise, 5-15 or so cell phones will be repeatedly going off and while that may feel like a brief power-trip, more often than not, it’s just plain annoying.

To receive a text from someone we love or concerning good news we’ve been waiting to hear can send a boost of exhilaration running through us and instantly place a smile on our face. But to rely on texting to create this feeling is to give it too much power. The gadgets we welcome into our lives must be mastered by the one who pays the bills – us! While yes, it can be intimidating to call and speak directly or meet someone face to face, such interactions if handled properly, will hold much more significance and value in both person’s lives whether it’s business or personal. Our time and attention speaks volumes.

If you would like to catch up on the previous two parts in the Life & Tech series, click here for Email Etiquette and here for Cell Phone Etiquette.


~The Difference Between Pleasure and Joy

~Not Another Puzzle Piece

~What I’ve Learned About Love So Far

Petit Plaisir:

~A simple afternoon snack:

  • hot tea
  • slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • roasted, unsalted almonds
  • slices of pear or apple | The Simply Luxurious Life

3 thoughts on “Life & Tech: Texting Etiquette 101

  1. Great post Shannon. I would add – know your audience! A few years ago we had a very young real estate agent text us constantly about our house purchase and also trying to get us to list the house we were selling with him – he annoyed me so much that I rang him to explain why I would not list with him and that he needed to think about his approach. Within two minutes of putting the phone down he sent me a text, “Sorry I texted you too much” …!

    I also once got a very long abusive text from a girl I decided not to rent my apartment to – it confirmed my decision!

    I think texting great for meeting up with friends – one friend I have known for many years is chronically late – I remember chilly nights waiting on a corner for an hour or so for her to turn up – now I just wait for the text before I set out 🙂

  2. Dear Shannon,

    I have enjoyed your book, blog, and podcasts. I especially look forward to each podcast’s “Petit Plaisir,” and was initially feeling let down when I read the “Simple Afternoon Snack.”

    However, after listening to the full podcast, I was so inspired to create my own Simple Afternoon Snack of lemon-ginger tea, hard white cheddar cheese, and smoked almonds. Before hearing the entire podcast, I had planned on downing a banana and pre-made smoothie, all with the intentions of eating as quickly as I could so that I could move on to the next thing. Your Petit Plaisir caused me to slow down, SIT down, and take a few moments for myself.

    Thank you for inspiring me to take an afternoon breath.

    1. Ashley, Thank you for sharing your experience and idea. Your tea of choice sounds lovely. Taking just these few 15 minutes amazingly enough can do so much to rejuvenate our minds for the rest of the day. Enjoy this simply luxury!

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