Early on in the days of texting, I remember a conversation I had with one of my friends, Casey, when we were talking about how rude this guy was to not answer a text. We looked at leaving a text message as being similar to leaving a voice mail. She said that she never, no matter what, just left a text unanswered, and after brainstorming for ways that the text could have gotten lost or unsent, we concluded that there was no excuse for him missing his turn to respond.
Today our conversation would be pretty different. Now it seems that texting has its own set of rules. Textiquette, if you will, is in its infancy, and sometimes we’re left guessing what action is appropriate or accepted. Given the casual nature of texting, it’s also easy to get careless with keeping up communication. I’ve asked friends and coworkers what their standards for returning, sending, and creating messages are and I’ve compiled their answers into a sort of brief anthology of working rules for the medium (which I will be breaking down, sharing, and editting with your feedback).
As far as answering texts goes, most people said that they answer at least 90% of texts. Many answered 98-99.9%. Most say that they answer as soon as they can. If they don’t answer right away it’s usually because they’re in class or at work, but they will answer when they are free to do so.
Some people (including Casey) sat at a more modest 65-70%. Ironically, I tend to be more on her side of the spectrum. With a job that includes people frequently texting confirmations for and questions about meeting times and protocol, I am usually sick of texts. I get a lot and find myself mentally pleading with people to just pick up the phone and call. It would be so easy! Anyway, I have gotten in the bad habit of just looking at the information on a text and taking it in, forgetting to acknowledge that I got the message or to respond to it.
No matter what mindset I’m in, this is not really okay. People expect responses, and being slighted on text message really is as bad as one in any other form of communication. Maybe it’s worse because it seems like responding would be so easy. Sometimes just a “yes”, “no”, or emoji will suffice. If the conversation is clearly over, then no one really expects a response, but everyone I talked to prefers not to be the last one to say something. Adding an emoji to respond to the last thing someone says is a nice thing to do for someone’s texting confidence.
If a text message has gone unanswered for an extended period of time, say a half a day or more, people still appreciate a response and expect some sort of acknowledgement for the time lapse. “Sorry I missed that text,” or “I’ve been flying all day,” or something to explain why they had to wait on you for a simple 10 second message.
From now on I will make it a priority to respond as soon as I can. I’ve started clearing out my texts as soon as a conversation is over (unless it’s an important one I need to look back on) and leaving the ones that I still need to respond to.