Tag Archives: SMS

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?


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.

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Jake McMillan


Timing the 2nd Date Request


You’ve had that great date, or met someone cool at a party or a club. You felt a good connection and definitely want to see them again – but when do you send that text message to propose a follow-up get together?

Too soon and you will be seen as too eager and desperate, whereas if you leave it too long they will think you’re not interested or someone who is probably just after a shag. Why do we play this silly game in which the timing of the message seems to be more important than the content?

We have no rule book explaining when it is the right time to communicate, and this leads to incessant analysis of how interested the other person really is, based on the timing of their SMS message. If I had a pound for every time a female friend has asked my opinion in the last few months on whether a guy is really interested based on a text message received, I would be able to afford an iPhone.

 

In particular, why is it such a social no-no to text someone straight away if a date has gone well? Of course, texting several times will make you seem like a stalker, but a single message conveying that you had a great time and would like to meet up again is seen as “too keen” if it is sent within 24 hours. Yet, it seems it would be cherished after 48 hours.

My female friends apparently think that men are rubbish at texting, and find it very difficult to interpret the guy’s interest in them. They are turned off by over-keenness and confused by delayed messages, particularly from guys they are really keen on. Women think more carefully about their communications, whereas men are much simpler in their approach. It is our simplicity that confuses the hell out of women and it is women’s complexity that confuses us men folk.

It’s really, really easy, ladies – if a guy hasn’t contacted you within three days, then he just isn’t that into  you. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t like  you or doesn’t want to meet you again, he just hasn’t felt that super connection or desire. No excuses can hide the fact that if a guy really likes you he will want to get in touch again straight away.

It is only the fear of being seen as desperate that will cause us to wait to communicate. But why should we wait?

Jake McMillan