If you’re in a certain age group (say, 35 or under), texting is likely your primary mode of communication. It’s easy to see why: it’s low-effort, non-intrusive, and it allows you to keep a conversation going throughout the day with that special someone.
But while texting is second nature to many of us, there are some people who, for whatever reason, aren’t that great at it. Actually, let me rephrase: they’re terrible at it.
Maybe they send you paragraph-long texts. Maybe they send you paragraph-long texts, but broken up into a rapid-fire barrage of messages that cause your phone to buzz constantly. Maybe they’re awful conversationalists via text, even though they’re great at chatting in person. Or maybe they don’t respond to your texts at all.
Fortunately, just because somebody’s a bad texter now doesn’t mean they’ll be one forever. Here are a few tips you can use to try and get them to step their game up.
Talk About It (Not Via Text)
Your first option is to have a talk with them about their texting habits. And when I say “talk,” I do mean talk, as in a face-to-face conversation. Let’s face it: if they’re terrible at texting (and their habits already piss you off), the last thing you want to do is try and have this conversation via text.
When you talk to them, it’s important that you frame it in a healthy way. That means not saying stuff like “What were you so busy with that you couldn’t text me back?” or “You’re shitty at texting.” Instead, frame it in terms of how it makes you feel. For example, let’s say they’re not very talkative in their text messages. In that case, you can say something like “When I don’t get a response from you or when the response I do get is just one word, it makes me feel like you’re not very interested in talking to me.”
Sometimes, the easiest way to correct a problem is the most direct. By letting them know how their texting style makes you feel, they’ll be more likely to change things up.
Point Out When They’re Doing It Right
Shitty texters are kind of like puppies: they may not know that what they’re doing is wrong. But instead of yelling at them when they do something wrong, try making sure to point out when their texts are hitting the mark.
Believe it or not, people (like puppies) are more likely to repeat behavior when it’s positively reinforced than they are to stop behavior that receives a negative reaction.
That doesn’t mean that you have to, like, give them a treat every time they text you back promptly or send an answer that’s more than one word. Acknowledging the good job they did on that text – preferably with a “Who’s a good texter? Who’s a good texter? It’s you! It’s you! Yes what a good text!” – makes it more likely that they’ll repeat it in the future.
Let Them Text You
If your problem is that you feel like you’re smothering them with texts and not getting much in response, there’s a simple solution:
Remember, the person on the other end of that text has their own life, their own responsibilities, and their own stuff to deal with on a daily basis. Just because you have some downtime at work doesn’t mean they do, so getting upset if they don’t text you back right away isn’t fair.
In some cases, you might actually be making them more stressed by texting them, because you’ve just added a new item – texting you back – to their to-do list.
Let them text you when they have a minute to do it. Odds are, the conversation will be more relaxed and more substantive as a result.
Adjust Your Texting Style
While dealing with a bad texter can be a pain, it’s often unrealistic – and a little unfair – to demand that they completely change their communication style to better suit yours. In most cases, you’ll probably have to compromise a bit on your expectations.
Let’s say you love to have long, in-depth conversations via text, but the person you’re texting prefers to save them for in-person. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad texter, it just means your texting styles aren’t very compatible. If that’s the case, you should try to adjust your expectations (and your texting style) a little bit to match theirs.
If all else fails, you could also use your phone’s “Phone” function. It’s probably buried with other apps you don’t use, like a map of an art museum you went to once and an app for Delta airlines that you only use if you’re flying Delta (and even then, only for a few minutes at a time).
If you like someone but can’t stand their texting style, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Before you give up on them completely, give these tips a try.