Monday, February 4, 2013

Returning Text Messages: A Power Play

by Kate Collins

Text conversation:

R U busy?
I'm writing.
Can I ask you a quick question?
Do you still have that recipe for beef stew with wine that you made last spring? That was so good I want to make it again but I can't find my copy, so I'm hoping you have one.
I'll check later.
Can you do it like now? I need to go to the store.
Um, I'm writing right now.
Oh . . . okay . . . Well . . .

Thank kind of conversation annoys the heck out of me. In the first place, I'd just said I was writing, so why did this tester think her quick question wouldn't bother me?

In the second place, it wasn't quick at all because it involved me having to go to the kitchen to hunt down an elusive recipe.

In the third place, that last line was designed to make me feel guilty for not dropping everything to help her. And notice how she doesn't end it. She just drifts off, ostensibly to pout.

In the fourth place, what's up with all those periods? Have you ever tried reading one of those lines out loud? What do you do in all that free space? Take breaths? Drop your voice an octave? I know someone who writes entire text messages using three periods between each thought. Talk . . . about . . . irritating . . .

In the fifth place, why on earth did I answer that text message in the first place? I was writing!

Why? Because I feel rude when I don't answer right away. Because I've sent text messages that have gone unanswered for almost a day and I wonder if it even got through. I don't want somebody I know to suffer the same fate.

Then I read an article that said the timing of an answer is basically a power struggle. If you do answer it right away, you're letting the other person take control of you. Depending on who that other person is, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. Most of my friends respect me enough to stop texting when I say I'm busy doing something, but there are those annoying few who refuse to take a hint.

So by replying to Miss Annoying's text, my subconscious message to her was that I was free enough to answer her text, and yet I wasn't kind enough to help her right then. It was a lose/lose situation.

How do you handle pesky texters?


Unknown said...

I get those sometimes as well, I try being nice at first because it's usually my best friend, my next door neighbour or my son, the problem is if I don't take care of what they want when they want it they either phone or show up at my front door, so no matter what I do it's a lose/lose situation for me.

Katreader said...

How do I handle those pesky texters? I don't text! lol. I don't have, nor want, a smart phone. I have a tracfone, to which no one knows the number...and which I keep turned off anyway. As for the land line, I may or may not answer it. I feel no guilt either-hardly anyone calls anyway. I do like to use ellipsis though(see above sentence). However, I use them more as a pause for thought than an omission!

Joanie said...

You need boundaries, Kate, and they're hard to build, and constantly need maintenance. It's also always amazed me how my writing clients are so much more respectful of my working hours than are non-writing my friends and family. I mean, here are the people who should be my biggest supporters and they still assume I can just drop anything when they want my attention. The best thing is always to ignore texts while you're writing, but incommunicado can be too frightening if an emergency happens. However, the way you responded was professional and right on point. You said you were working; you don't have to give another reason. The recipe wasn't life or death--it can be made later, and if your texter really wanted to be able to shop today the request to you should have come yesterday or the day before. When I worked in corporate, I had a sign on my desk that read "Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." Feel free to use any time you need--no guilt.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, very annoying. If it were me, I'd turn off my phone during writing time, then back on during breaks or lunch to see if there are any emergencies.

Unknown said...

In the moment, you do what I do, hope they get it. They don't, you (we), have to say , no. No I can't,won't. Why do we hesitate to say no? It's a woman thing, the men I know say no and it's done. No one died, collapsed or starved.

Mo said...

I read my incoming texts when they arrive but unless it is an obvious real emergency I don't answer until it is convenient to me. I do the same with emails. They can wait their turn in my line of priorities.

Kate Collins said...

Great comments, ladies. Joannie, it's too bad text messages don't have a "wall" like Facebook, or I'd post that saying on it.

I agree that it's a woman thing. We're just too nice sometimes. I'm learning, though, to ignore those pesky texts when I'm writing.

Kate Collins said...

Great comments, ladies. Joannie, it's too bad text messages don't have a "wall" like Facebook, or I'd post that saying on it.

I agree that it's a woman thing. We're just too nice sometimes. I'm learning, though, to ignore those pesky texts when I'm writing.

Linda McDonald said...

So far, I have not entered the texting world. I have a very basic tracfone that I don't use much and have never sent a text from. So for now, for me, I make phone calls or send emails. I guess once I do step into the texting world I'll have to learn the rules. That article you mentioned sounds quite interesting.

Rachelle21 said...

I am like Linda, I do not text. I could text from my phone but, I do not want to pay more for my cell. I have received texts in error and tried to trace them to let them know they had the wrong number. Since, I have not had one in awhile, I assume they learned the correct number.

Aurian said...

I read the incoming text, and if I don't want to answer that person at that moment, I won't. I also do that with the phone. When it rings while I am having dinner, or my book or movie is just exciting, I won't answer it. I don't even look who is calling, I don't want to be disturbed at that moment. If it is urgent, they will call again. Or email me.
I know it is rude, and most people seem to thank you have to answer the phone when it rings, but I don't agree with that.

Book Dragon said...

but you're not just writing, you're WORKING! They wouldn't call you at the office and expect you to jump to it, why do they expect it at home?