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Etiquette tips on the proper way to send a text message


We love to send texts, been doing it for decades. However, that doesn't mean we've been doing it well.


LIZZIE POST: There are a lot of people out there who really struggle to get across what they mean.


Lizzie Post is co-president of Emily Post, a family business specializing in etiquette since 1922. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, famous for being the voice on proper manners back in the day.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So what are some of the text etiquette rules or textiquette rules, if you will?

POST: One of the big, overarching points that we often tell people is to not send negatively surprising news, like a relative had died.


SELF ESTEEM: Prioritize pleasure. Don't send those long paragraph texts. Stop it. Don't.

INSKEEP: Post warns about a long paragraph text and also about sending multiple text messages in a row.

POST: Where you send the list of thoughts in, like, six, seven, eight different individual text messages because you've now just pinged that person's phone six, seven, eight times. I mean, you're blowing up their phone.


MARTÍNEZ: Another text etiquette tip, always be mindful about how soon you get back to someone.

POST: I think, right now, a lot of people are taking a really long time to respond. It's OK to nudge someone again if you want to. I personally stop nudging after a few nudges.

INSKEEP: And be aware of text anxiety. Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist.

ELLEN HENDRIKSEN: Anxiety makes us jump to the worst-case scenario. So when we see the dot, dot, dot, and then it disappears, most likely someone with social anxiety will think, they don't want to talk to me or I said something wrong.


MARTÍNEZ: And then what about what Steve Inskeep constantly texts me 24/7, all those emojis?

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Here's Hendriksen.

HENDRIKSEN: The meaning of emojis seems to shift under our feet. I know the thumbs up symbol for older people means just that, means affirmative, but for younger people can be passive aggressive or sarcastic.

INSKEEP: I'm kind of thumbs-downing all emojis, in reality. But here's one last rule from Lizzie Post.

POST: If you're angry about something, that's a really good time to not use your thumbs, take a deep breath and try to find the time to have a conversation with someone. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.