Texting etiquette 101: Are you texting the right way?
In light of text messaging playing an integral role in our daily communication, Messenger from Facebook has teamed up with 251-year-old London’s professional coaching organisation on etiquette, Debrett’s, to guide users on texting etiquette, especially in the digital age.
While digital messaging provides a whole lot of convenience and speed, it has limitations of its own too. Ever had trouble expressing yourself in situations where you want to sound formal and proper, but not too serious and mundane at the same time? Yep, we’ve all been there—finding the right balance is tricky.
It’s obvious that communication etiquette no longer applies only for face-to-face communication, but through various digital platforms as well. These etiquettes remain as unwritten rules and can be a little confusing at times, especially when expressing one's tone and context in a message.
Ahead, glean these helpful tips on how to make the right impression through a screen:
1. What are the most important things people should know about communicating in the digital age?
- Your words count—using sarcasm or irony can backfire if the person you’re messaging doesn’t realise, and you run the risk of appearing rude and inconsiderate. So, if in doubt, leave those two out.
- If you feel your tone might be misunderstood, keep all language neutral, and use a smiley emoji or a positive symbol to help show the sender that your message was well-intentioned.
- Don’t want to cause embarrassment or confusion? Easy, always check your spelling—it's so easy to dash off a quick message without checking first but that extra attention before you hit send is worth it. It goes a long way to a positive connection sans the bad impression.
2. How to avoid being misunderstood over text, since tone and context can be difficult to express?
You can always use emojis. It’s also a fun way to brighten up a message and there are obvious times—like birthdays and other celebrations—when emojis are appropriate to use. They can also be used to emphasise tone and make sure the recipient knows that a message is well-intended.
For example, if you are in a hurry and need to send a short reply to a friend or family member’s message, an emoji can soften the words and reassure the recipient that all is well.
3. What constitutes good texting etiquette?
- Keep your tone friendly and neutral.
- Use affectionate emojis or positive symbols if you are in any doubt that your tone might be misunderstood.
- Sharing messages with other people is also something to avoid as it could leave the original sender of the message embarrassed and exposed. Consider all messages sent to you as confidential unless the sender specifically says you can forward to someone else.
- Reply promptly especially if you know the other person can see that you have read the message.
4. What constitutes bad texting etiquette?
- Don’t write overly long messages or, equally, replies that are too short (as in one word answers) that can make you appear rude or too busy to talk, and that never sends the right message.
- Never ignore or ghost a person—this is simply bad manners. If you no longer wish to continue the conversation with someone tell them politely and clearly.
5. How should we present ourselves when texting in a group chat?
Etiquette in group chat is generally the same as with personal messaging but there are some common pitfalls to avoid, when the potential to cause offence or embarrassment can be magnified. Here’s what you need to look out for:
- Remember to check who else is in the group to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations. Sending a message about a colleague at work only to find her sister is part of the group, is not only hurtful but is also awkward for everyone, not to mention bad for your own reputation.
- It’s also never good manners to send more than one reply to a message when one will do. Multiple messages sent at once can look domineering and can be confusing as people late to the chat try to catch up. Constant notifications can also be distracting and annoying. Imagine leaving the chat for a few minutes and coming back to find there are dozens of new messages to read through.
- It’s also particularly kind and considerate to make sure you don’t leave a member of the group hanging. If someone has posted a message but no one has replied, a simple ‘like’ or emoji can help alleviate their awkwardness. If you’re the one no one has replied to, follow up the next day with a light-hearted “just checking in….”.
6. How to avoid ending on an awkward note when the conversation is going nowhere?
Don’t overthink it—messaging a simple “Got to go now, have work to catch up on,” is a neutral way of ending the communication without causing offense, seemingly natural.
7. How does one leave a group chat without looking rude?
It’s completely appropriate to leave a group chat but make sure you offer a polite but friendly explanation before you just disappear. However, if you feel leaving the group might cause offence, then simply mute the conversation and no one will be the wiser. If you want to exit the group for whatever reason, give a brief but friendly explanation and then leave. There’s no need to wait around for replies.