Category Archives: communication

Had a haircut?

Regular readers of this blog will know I am not a big fan of getting my haircut. It is not just the actual process of going to the hairdressers that I hate, but the inevitable inane, annoying and downright dumb comments that people say when they notice your hair looks different.

The reason I find this annoying is that the person usually spots your hair and rather than just waiting a second to process what they’ve seen, they blurt out something stupid or redundant. People will say things such as:

“You’ve had a haircut” – this is, in fact, a statement but is said in a way that the person saying it wants you to respond. When you answer a simple “Yes”, they then seem to struggle with what to say next?

Sometimes people just say “Haircut?” as if this is an acceptable question?

If people just took that second longer to think about what they have seen before speaking, they could come up with a more socially proficient comment such as “I like your hair/Your hair is looking good, have you had it cut recently?”, “Have you changed your hairstyle?”

To combat these comments, I use some of the following responses to prevent me from wanting to harm the person who spoke them.

Statement My Response
(to be said dryly with a hint of derision)
“Had a haircut?” “Yes, many times in my life”.
“Have a haircut?” “No thanks, I’ve just had one”
“You’ve had a haircut” “You’re wearing clothes” [then when they look confused], “Oh, I am sorry; I thought we were just making obvious statements about each other?”
“Haircut?” “I actually prefer people to call me Jake rather than Herr Kutt … as that is not my name and I’m not German”
“I like your hair” “Thanks, I grew it myself”

Do you know the unwritten rules of modern communication?

With the proliferation of communication mechanisms in the last 20 years you will have noticed and conformed to as well broken the unwritten etiquette of modern communication.

For example, if someone communicates to you using a certain form of communication, e.g. Email, then you are expected to respond using the same form of communication or something higher up on the hierarchy.

The communication hierarchy is as follows:

Do people still write letters?!

If you respond with a lower form of communication, e.g. one person calls and leaves a voicemail and the other emails back, then the first person might feel snubbed, but it will depend, of course, on the nature/content of the message.

However, the communication hierarchy has an almost inverse correlation to the unwritten social convention of how quickly you are meant to respond to the various forms of communication without seeming rude.

The following table outlines the amount of time with which you are meant to respond to a general ‘how are you doing?’ contact:

Type of Contact Acceptable Response Time
SMS/Text Message Within 24hrs
Missed Call (with Voicemail) Within 2 days
Missed Call (No Voicemail) Within 6 days
Email Within 5 days
Letter Within a month
IM Message No response actually required

These response times can be considerably reduced depending on who is communicating to you and the nature of the communication, for example, if it is your partner, your boss or your mum!

Normally we instinctively know these rules but we all occasionally get them wrong, or some have different views of what the rules are, and then we end up offending someone.

Some people prefer to use certain forms of communication, e.g. my mate Alex always calls and practically never texts, where another Kim always texts and never calls.

We all know people who are particularly poor at responding to any sort of messages. I have one friend like this, but they do it to everyone so some think this is okay. I don’t. I think not responding to a communication shows lack of consideration and respect.

It doesn’t matter how busy you are everyone can spare the few seconds it takes to email or text a friend ‘Hey, how’s it going? Super busy at the moment but will be in touch in a few weeks’.

We have all been offended by someone else’s poor communication, but do we have a right to be upset with them if the rules are unwritten?

100 per cent Rubbish!

That is it, I’ve had enough! Something needs to be done about people, notably sports people, using percentages incorrectly about their effort, e.g. “I gave it 110%, but next time I’ll give it 120%”. No, no, nooooooo!

You cannot give 120% effort, the maximum effort you can give, by definition, is 100%, no more, that would be impossible.

Athletes and such like either do not understand or don’t want to say they only gave 95% effort last time and this time they’ll give 98% effort. I guess it doesn’t sound as grand to use percentages properly.

And yes I do understand that when used the term is not meant to be taken literally and is meant figuratively. I do not actually believe we are some sort of android with the capability to check a readout which tells us our percentage effort used.

I am against the use of the term as it is not only wrong, but it sounds totally lame and there are many other words and colourful phrases that could be better used instead.

Please give 100% effort and no more (as you can’t) into making sure we stamp this out.


Jake McMillan

The 24hrs Rule

It’s a rule that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but now the 24hrs rule, although an unwritten rule, governs our etiquette regarding email, SMS text messaging and phone calls. Unless you are ill, on holiday or unexpectedly put in prison, you are meant to reply to this type of electronic message, to a friend or colleague, within 24hrs, anything longer and it is considered rude and an apology would be expected with the message.

Before the predominance of the internet and mobile phones, communication was limited to old fashioned landline telephone calls and snail mail. Now that we carry around electronic devices on our person and engage in social networking several times a day, we fully expect a response to our message within a reasonable time frame, which is no more than 24hours.

If a message goes over 24hrs without a response, then we get very annoyed as it is disrespectful to behave in such an impolite way. Even as the 24hrs barrier approaches we start to get annoyed that the person dares to get close to a contemptible reply time.

We are increasingly becoming more and more impatient and the 24hr rule is starting to become socially unacceptable for text messages and that a response within 12hrs (inclusive of sleep time) is expected. A good friend of mine was even upset the other day that I took 6hrs to reply to her text message and I was ill at the time!

It’s only in the dating arena, as per my previous blog post, where communication is acceptable over the 24hrs period otherwise it seems too keen. More and more we have to communicate with people over different mediums, but also be conscious of how quickly and often we do it. We also learn whether our friends are more responsive to a particular form of communication, some prefer texts, other emails and some even (can you believe it?) actually prefer talking on the phone!

I’m quite happy with the 24hrs rule but I worry that we are moving towards a world where instant responses are required. I am not a fan of that and that is why I don’t log into instant messaging systems unless I have arranged to chat to somebody.


Jake McMillan