By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
(A note before we begin: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The best practices below work equally well for ladies and gentlemen!)
If you would have told me five years ago that I would send, receive, and reply to as many texts each day as I do, I wouldn’t have believed it. In fact, if you’re older than 30, you probably wouldn’t have believed it about yourself either. However, the stats are in, and ladies, more of us use texting to communicate with people who aren’t in the same room as we are than any other method of communication. In fact, every second you’re reading this post, 69,000 texts are being sent in the U.S. alone. That adds up to 6 billion a day (23 billion worldwide).
The Biggest Benefit of Knowing The Best Practices for Texting
With texting being so popular, its use is going to continue to grow. Knowing the best practices for texting is something every lady should want to master because, while it’s the quickest form of communication, it’s also the one where the most miscommunication happens.
Because a text has the lowest bandwidth of any form of communication.
What’s communication bandwidth?
Bandwidth of communication refers to how well what you’re trying to say transfers without misunderstanding to the person you’re talking to.
A face-to-face conversation has the highest bandwidth because any confusion can be instantly recognized. You can tell by the look on other’s faces whether they understand you and whether what you’re saying is making them happy, angry, confused, or any other emotion. You can then adjust your tone of voice, your word choices, and your body language to best enhance your message and meaning.
When all the different forms of communication are examined, texting has the absolute lowest bandwidth. Yet it’s being used the most. In the 23 billion texts being sent today, many millions of misunderstandings are happening because of it. And as crazy as it is, people text back to try to clear up the misunderstandings, making the spinning top of confusion spin faster!
A lady understands bandwidth; she knows her words need to be understood as she meant them. She knows when a text will do nicely, how to compose a polished one, and how to send it politely. She also knows when it’s better to email, write a letter, pick up the phone, or pay a personal visit. Her aim is always to be understood the first time, and that’s why she’s excited to know and use the best practices for texting.
How a Lady Handles Texting — The 10 Best Practices for Texting
1. A lady never shares especially good or bad news via a text. If it’s good news, she knows that people want to share congratulations verbally. If it’s bad news, she knows that the other person(s) naturally will have follow-up questions that will require back-and-forth texting. The best way for life-impacting information to be shared is in person or over the phone (even if you need to leave a voice mail).
2. A lady does all she can never to start a group text. In the rare cases when one is necessary, she never starts it among people who don’t know one another well unless each person has agreed to it in advance. Instead, she sends out a group email (with the email addresses of the others concealed) and shares her phone number so that each person can contact her directly via text. She realizes that group texts can quickly amass text messages and that phone numbers shouldn’t be shared publically, nor should strangers first be known to others through what they might write in an unfiltered fashion in a text, unaware of who else is part of the group.
3. A lady never sends a text at an hour when she wouldn’t call. Knowing that many people no longer have landlines, and they sleep with their cell phones by their bed, she knows that if they have forgotten to silence the phone for the night, her text will disturb their sleep.
4. A lady never texts in a place or situation where it would divert her attention from the people with her. She also wouldn’t text if doing so would distract people around her at an event like a movie, concert, meeting, religious service, or the like. At a wedding or funeral, her phone is turned off and left in her purse or car. This is especially true if she happens to be the bride at the wedding! (Don’t you wonder what in the world the bride shown in the gif below was texting during her wedding as she’s about to be walked down the aisle by her Dad?! The poor man looks rather baffled and embarrassed.)
5. A lady knows that since texting is the fastest form of communication (other than speaking), it requires the fastest response time. A phone call or email requiring a response, especially if it’s business-related, should be answered within 24 hours. Texts should be responded to at your first opportunity. While you don’t want to divert your attention to every text received and text immediately, they should be texted three times per day and answered at those times. It’s fine if your replies simply let the senders know that you’ve received and read their texts and when they can expect the information they were requesting. “Hello, Bree! I received your text and will call you tonight before 8 PM about getting together this weekend! (Maralee)”
6. Unless it’s someone she knows well, a lady doesn’t expect the person she’s texting to recognize her by her phone number. When sending or replying to a text, she knows that it’s savvy and kind to write her name inside parentheses at the end of the text. For an example, refer to tip 5 above.
7. A lady realizes that texting has a constantly evolving and expanding language all its own and that many people are unfamiliar with most or some of it. Until she knows how well the person she’s texting “speaks” the language, she only uses words that are part of regular spoken language. It’s only nice to receive a text that reads “U R Gr8!” if you know that it translates to “You are great!” A general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to go casual in a text and use text lingo until you’ve shared laughs with the person face-to-face. This ensures there’s enough of a relationship established that you can be casual, as long as the person isn’t a boss, professor, teacher, elected official, or the like.
Grace Note: If a lady receives a baffling text, she knows that she can look up texting translations at NetLingo.com, the largest resource of text acronyms and symbols. If a lady plans on continuing to use standard words in her texts, that’s fine; she doesn’t need to change her word usage. If the person she’s communicating with is fluent in text-speak, and she’s interested in learning it, she can look up words and phrases to her heart’s content and reply using them unless she’s representing her business. In work-related texts, it’s best to use a more professional vocabulary.
8. A lady knows that many emoticons have double meanings. She doesn’t use them in a text until she’s sure of all their definitions. For instance, the popular “shrugging” emoji does follow the word meaning and is used correctly to indicate a lack of an answer to a question being asked in the text. In text lingo, it also symbolizes asking for a sexual liaison. While a lady always assumes the person meant the most common terminology for the emoji, she’s not naive. She’s wise enough to consider the sender of the text and whether that person was suggesting the lesser-known meaning. There are two online emoticon dictionaries to consult. Emojipedia is for standard usage. The Emoji Dictionary is crowd-sourced, and it’s where you’ll find the “street” meanings.
9. A lady knows that texting in front of others is the new version of whispering in front of others. People nearby tend to think it’s about them. If a lady is part of a group, even if they’re not in the middle of a conversation, she will casually and quickly mention to no one in particular the reason for her text or the person she’s texting. “Excuse my quick text. I need to check in with work.” Or “Excuse the text. I’m confirming something with the babysitter.”
10. A lady does not take part in arguments via text, and she does not substitute texting for unpleasant conversations she should have in person. If words in a text escalate, she’ll call the person so that the bandwidth of the conversation is closer (see near the beginning of this post for the explanation of bandwidth.) and the argument can be resolved before it escalates further. A lady is always aware that anything she texts can be shared with just a few button clicks to anyone and everyone.
There you have the ten best practices for texting. However, no matter which form of communication her words take — phone, email, letter, in person, or a text — most importantly, a lady knows that her words hold power. They can soothe or leave bruises. They can encourage or discourage. They can lift up or push down. They can praise or curse. A lady first chooses and then does the hard work of living out her decision to take the narrow path. But that’s fine with her! She rejoices over Proverbs 31: 25-26:
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
The 10 Best Practices for Texting — Two Important Extra Tips
11. A lady always reads her text slowly and carefully before pushing the send button. She knows that typos are easy when we’re quickly clicking those small keys and that auto-correct has probably caused more problems than it has solved. I once texted my best friend, and I don’t know what I accidentally typed, but I meant to write that she was my greatest friend. Instead, auto-correct for some reason decided to change “friend” to “fiend.” Thankfully, my sweet friend assumed the best about me, and although she still jokes about me calling her a fiend, our friendship is secure. 🙂
12. A lady pays absolutely no attention to texts when she is driving. She doesn’t even try to read them while stopped at red lights. She knows that if she were to do that, she would take her eyes off the road and would not be able to see situations like a vehicle crossing into her lane or some other driving catastrophe.
Five years ago my mother was stopped at a red light. The light turned green. She was the third car through the intersection when a driver turned left (on his red light) and plowed into her while he was reading a text. Mom spent weeks in the hospital with broken ribs and a badly broken leg. That was followed by more than two months in a rehab center as she underwent painful, daily therapy to regain her ability to walk. She had multiple surgeries, and her left leg now contains more steel than bone. She walks with a cane because of the accident. Mom’s car was totaled. It was four weeks old and the first new one she ever owned. The other driver was underinsured and unemployed. We’re glad he was uninjured; however, one of the police officers noticed that he was texting again as Mom was being loaded into the ambulance!
Until next time, keep doing what only you can do! Bless those around you by being you at your authentic best!
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Until next time…
Blessings and hugs,