8 Interpretations of Silence when using Instant Messaging

I use Instant Messaging (IM) a lot in my job to manage my team and connect with friends. I love it because I have the unparalleled advantage of multi-tasking different conversations with so many people at once. Of course, it does have a few drawbacks, but overall, I still think it’s a valuable tool in the arsenal of online communication – particularly for couch managers.

However, there is one pet peeve that most individuals share when using online chat: Silence

I’m not referring to the natural pauses that occur during a normal back & forth online conversation, but rather to the (sometimes intentional) disappearing act that people choose to do after reading an IM message.

Here’s a typical online chat session:

Person A: Hey!
Person B: Hey, what’s up?
Person A: Nothing much, things are going great so far
<Some more small talk>
Person A: Quick question. Regarding the budget report and status update we discussed last week, I wanted to follow up on where we stand with that. Do you have something you’d like to share before our meeting this afternoon? I don’t feel I have all the info I need before discussing them with the client.
Person B: *Silence* (for quite a while)
Person A: Still there??
Person B: *More Silence*

Here are 8 interpretations that go on inside Person A’s mind:

So basically, Person A starts making assumptions and acting upon those assumptions, and that almost always leads to miscommunication issues.

Here are 3 lessons learned for Person B to save everyone time and frustration:

  1. If you’ve read the message, for the love of God, type out what you’re thinking. Even if you’re hesitant to answer, a simple “Let me think about it,”  or “I’ll get back to you” would be much more appreciated compared to the agonizing feeling of wondering whether you read the message or not.
  2. If you haven’t read the message, then type a quick “brb” before stepping out or set your status to automatically update to “Busy” or “Away.”
  3. If you got disconnected while in the middle of a chat conversation, a courteous follow up with a call or email to let Person A know you might have missed a message would help a lot. Surprisingly, with all the technology we have to date, a lot of those IM clients don’t always update your online/ offline status in real time, so one can’t always tell if you dropped off before you got the last message.

190 Responses to 8 Interpretations of Silence when using Instant Messaging

  1. thanks for the advice, I have been through these scenarios many times. it is good to know how to deal with it in the future.

  2. Many times people are so busy multi-tasking the many demands imposed by everyday life that they forget the importance of ‘etiquette’, even in the business world. This is yet another example of how one small rule of thumb can save much-needed time that would have been wasted on making assumptions and behaving accordingly. Thanks for sharing, couch manager!!

  3. i love this article, u are sooo right!!!

  4. Hahaha I love this because it’s so true! I especially hate it when you’ve asked something serious and the silence seems like they’re lost as to how they should respond…

    What about when it says they’re typing and then that disappears a few times? Like they are carefully formulating their response?

    http://www.denwrites.com

  5. Great advice! However, as one who has had a certain person freak out when a response didn’t arrive according to their time frame, I would also say to take a step back, relax, and give people the benefit of the doubt without over-analyzing it.

  6. It’s just common courtesy to let someone know you’ve stepped away or are busy at the moment if you cannot respond immediately while IMing. I mean, if you were having a face-to-face conversation with someone, you wouldn’t just walk away without an explanation, right?

    Great post! :)

  7. You must be a mind reader in addition to a couch manager…

    I was just conversing with someone about this very topic. As a former college communications teacher, I always taught my students the power of silence (to get people’s attention in a large group, to add emphasis, etc.) … but I also taught them the dangers — primarily when it comes to something like IM.

    I mean, “BRB.” How long does that take to type? Answer: Not long.

    Great points. Great illustration. Great topic.

    Thanks for the mind meld…

  8. I think I need to forward your post to a few people I know! Ü

  9. I can’t stand it. And what are you supposed to do if you have a reoffending person B? Should you get rid of the problem by getting rid of the cause?

  10. How about, “pick up the phone first and skip IM!”

    • i agree. we used gtalk for work even when we’re 5 feet away from each other but we always assumed that if it’s taking a while for a response that something came up on the other end. if it’s so important and you’re within walking distance, a face-to-face conversation would work. rather than having everyone else pick up the slack for your preference for online communication rather than face-to-face, it’s best to realize that you get back what you put in. the person requesting information should exert the same, if not more, effort as the one who’s giving it.

  11. I’d add to this 1 lesson learned for Person A:

    You have no way of knowing what’s going on, so save yourself the headache and stop trying to figure it out.

    :)

  12. LOL this is a great idea – and it also obviously speaks to the conversation about values.

    The value[s] you’re talking about here are communication, transparency and accountability. You’re obviously someone who feels safest when you know what’s going on w/ other people, regardless of what the answer is, so long as you at least understand what’s going on.

    And you’re also likely comfortable (generally speaking, probably not always) with communicating where you are with other people, regardless of what’s going on. You see it as a respect thing, I imagine.

    Interestingly enough – there are people who TOTALLY don’t view communication like this, for whatever reason, I have no idea. But I understand your frustration!

    Not to mention, in a business environment, this kind of communication is required anyway. Leaving people hanging is not cool, regardless of what personal style you have.

    Awesome (and funny) post.

  13. Clever! I have been paranoid enough while skyping and fbing to think someone is copying my message and forwarding it to others…one never knows….
    …Thanks for the breakdown of brb…btw…are you aware of any links that would give a breakdown of chat abbreviations?…Sometimes I have no clue! Merci!

  14. My husband does it to me all the time. Annoying.

  15. Wow…that’s some info. I’ll try to work on it.

  16. I just love the 8 reactions diagram.
    Your thought races when you ask a question you want an answer for, and the person who was responding split second after your messages during the small talk, does reply for ages (3 minutes max!).

  17. Excellent dissection of the non-answer effect. Very thoughtfull and I think you hit all the uncertainties person A goes through.

  18. so funny, i hate when i am iming someine and they slow poke around and 20 min later the hit you back like what happen? then i am like *silence* on purpose. http://www.copperetiquette.wordpress.com

  19. I think most People have a Problem which is NOT Technically its simply: most people can´t communicate. They Can´t made any Decisions about which things are important – and which one´s not.

  20. The worst is when they come back after a long silence, completely ignore your message and start a conversation about something totally unrelated. You feel pushy asking ‘Did you see my message?’ or writing out the message again. Someone very close to me if a repeat offender of this and it drives me mad!

  21. Good stuff! I am normally person A…but this is still a good reminder!

  22. Re. #3: that might be a *little* much…every chat or IM client I use will tell me if the other person has “signed off” (e.g. if they’re disconnected then it means their screen name will appear as signed off). So I already know if someone’s been disconnected and might not have received my last message.

    The rest of the post is entirely sound though. Love the diagram. :)

  23. When I was a young girl, I held a job at McDonalds. We had a system to avoid this.

    It was a highway store, and tended on the busy side. With as many as 7 tills running, it could get confusing. ANY time you shouted some direction or an order or a quantity back to the Grill area, you waited for a ‘Thank you!’

    If you took the last Big Mac, you called out (facing away from the customers) “Zero Macs!”, implying there were none left in the bin. If no one said thank you, you repeated yourself. Communication is only working it if is HEARD.

    Certainly, MSN is different, but as I use it too at work (very valuable), I train my staff (and try to insist) that they reply, that they acknowledge.

  24. This is an excellent post you know! And with your sense of humor, it’s just WOW!

  25. Great points. I can’t agree more. I’ve noticed I have this issue pretty frequently because I type very quickly. So I often send a long message that takes some time to read and even more time to respond too. But, of course, most of the people I IM don’t type as quickly as I and it is difficult not to expect them to.

    Crystal

  26. thanks a lot. i will return here again

  27. Absolutely, Don’t leave people hanging! It is rude and can be so nerve racking.

  28. I think I find one thing rather surprising about this; one side has more than the other. Is it just coincidence? Well if you ask me I don’t think so. I think we are all just a little bit pessimistic when it comes to us in relation to others!

    The one that has more, which is the one with person B seeing the message and not responding it gets people to think more. I’m not sure what it is that strays us towards the redundancy of assumption and not only that, let’s us by into the more pessimistic ones but you can see it in this example. Ignoring and forgetting to respond.

    I find myself always leaning to these, or used to rather, I try not to lean to them anymore (it’s a work in progress, what can I say?) I think I can safely say, in my case, that why I lean to them is because I want to feel victimized and then later pitied on, I know, I feel so sorry for those that need to say sorry to me ;)

    The reason why I won’t impose these three rules onto someone is because I am guilty of doing them myself and I just don’t find it fair that I tell someone to do something that I am not doing myself :)

  29. My friends and I have this problem when we’re using msn chat… Thnx for writing the post and congratulations on Freshly Pressed!!!

  30. OH, I think this lesson goes way beyond just IM. . .assumptions, silence, and miscommunication are a common human weakness across the board- I don’t IM but, could completely relate! The other lesson is for person A (often, that’s me) to have the bubble graph moment and then let it go, ie. not act on the assumptions, right off anyway;) Great post- totally captured the thought process!

  31. This is so true, especially a conversation with the opposite sex. Silence makes you start thinking like “oops, is it what i said” or “What’s he/she thinking of me right now?” …………… nice post me likey!!

  32. this is really good! i think the same questions that you posted, hence my reason for avoiding using it when talking to people with bad memories. this usually happens with guys. and another reason why i do not like long distant relationships. lol

  33. Yeah, I share your opinion. People should really silenced in IM and write that they’re thinking instead or so.

  34. In the nuclear power industry, and in turbine and generator maintenance or construction, we use a “feedback” repeat ALL the time for instructions.

    You (speaking to me): “Do A, B, and C, then check D and call George.”

    Me (replying to you) ” OK. I supposed to do A, B, and C; then check D and call George. Do I do it this shift, or after he returns tomorrow?”

    You (verifying I heard your instructions correctly, understood them properly, and that you heard my next question accurately): “You’re right. Call George tomorrow.”

    Me (new info!) – “OK”, I’ll call him tomorrow when A, B, and C finish with the info about D .”

    Yes, it takes a little bit longer, but just emailing (or texting) back to the first person when you get instructions or some long message like the one above helps.

    Just info? Or if you’re a “copy to” non-critical busybody? No reply.

  35. Thank you for posting this!! Because you are correct! I tend to reply to every text and email – it’s just good manners. I know people get busy, but there is always time to reply!!
    anita

  36. Silence on IM is frustrating indeed and more so when you need some quick answers. Loved reading and yes, an interesting flowchart you’ve got there! Haha…
    Congrats on being FP :)

  37. nice post! this happens alot to me…but im usually person b…lol.

  38. THANK YOU

    Seriously, some one needed to say this!

    http://www.ReallyPhatChow.com

  39. Wow, I’m usually the person responding in silence… I’ll think twice about that from now on.

  40. Or an addendum to bubble #2, they’re ignoring it because they haven’t got it done yet and don’t want to fess up to that :)

  41. Great post! I had experiences like this before and yes, the feeling of wondering whether the other person got your message or not is awful and annoying!

  42. That’s true! I don’t like to wait and I make many assumptions.

  43. It should be common-sense, but remarkably for most people it’s not. This piece is a good reminder to all who use instant messaging, and I think the concept applies to text messaging too. Personally, I err on the side of over-informing; I’d rather someone got tired of hearing from me than letting that person think I was ignoring him or her.

  44. I love at least receiving acknowledgement of my message being received… Even if it’s a brb or hold on.

  45. The silence is always awkward… and I haven’t instant messaged in forever!! In college that’s all we did was im.. thanks for sharing

  46. I think if it is wrong to do in person, it is wrong in typeface also.

  47. yah i know about this

  48. I completely agree with that ! I hate people who forget to answer or just warn about anything like : havin’ a call or being right back. And people who forgot to reset the IM status, it’s simpler than to explain that you’ll be right back when you have so much contacts online !

  49. Here’s a thought: “Multitasking multiple conversations at once” is tantamount to not listening well to any one of those conversations. It is also highly insulting to anyone engaged in any of the myriad conversations you’re orchestrating. A boss or a team leader who hides behind a veil of IMs is the boss or team leader that employees don’t respect.

    If your conversation is about communication, man up and schedule some face time so all parties in the conversation will have some clarity and an actual exchange of ideas and data. That will disallow passive-aggressive silence or create the necessity for the let-me-think-about-it-and-I’ll-get-back-to-you type of courteous answer that’s required. Communication is productive and adds value to the company. Instant messaging chit-chat is counterproductive and leaves the door open to the perils of misinterpretation; many a good idea or employee has been inadvertently or unjustly scuttled because of this unfortunate phenomenon.

    If your conversation is about power—about how many “pawns” you control on the chess board—then a little silence should not make any difference. A pawn’s a pawn.

    Instant messages, email, Tweets, Facebook postings, etc. are poor substitutes for communication. They have impoverished our society, not enriched it.

  50. I hate this!
    Granted; it used to happen a ton more often (mostly when AOL was in vogue), but still person “B” : get with the program!
    I say if your person “A” in this scenario, that you assume the worst, and carry on as such. In this example: he heard you (read what you said), and choose to ignore you.
    Then you walk down to his/her respective office and choke em out Homer Simpson a la Bart style ;o)
    (I never gave that bit of advice for the record)
    ~J

  51. This definitely also applies to text messaging. Sometimes the silence can mean even more things especially if you’re texting someone you’re romantically interested in. Technology can be so great but also create such ambiguity!

  52. I’m Person B sometimes, but just because I use msn on my cel and the conection is soo bad. I usually call or send a txt, ’cause for me it’s annoying to not receive an answer.

    Great post :) Congrats on beeing freshly pressed.
    Regards from Chile.

    Javi
    (Ps: And sorry for my english)

  53. fantastic
    new technology has changed , but our 1st reaction remains to same:
    WE TAKE IT PERSONAL

  54. I think you have the eight interpretations exactly right!

  55. My husband and I lived away from each other for many years before we were married, and used chats and IMs to communicate all the time. The infamous “…” is something I dread seeing online now, though it does at least acknowledge that the person on the other end received the message. So you only have to worry about dealing with the “…” rather than the “oh my gosh, did they see the message yet?” stuff. Great post!

  56. Thanks for the post! I think this applies in text messaging as well. In an era where cell phones are always on your person, failure to reply can really be taken personally. http://www.cassiecares.com

  57. PS- I just subscribed. Love your blog!

  58. Pingback: e-silence! Shush’ing me webstyle? « RhetoricalCocktail.co.uk

  59. Now I realize how awful people feel when I only respond to their messages after days.

  60. So funny! That is what my kids do all the time. When they don’t get an answer from thier freinds the fight begins. LOL

  61. I hate that, and it happens to me frequently.Rrrr…

  62. That is so true! I am having that kind of experience almost everyday at the office when working together with our outsourced teams around the world :)

  63. Pingback: Some thoughts on online etiquette « The Pretty Serpent

  64. Abso-frickin-lutely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  65. Exactly!! Let the other person know what is going on! I just always assume that people are “silent” as they must be chatting with someone far more important or interesting than me… lol… but that just might be my insecurity talking…

  66. Pingback: Ghost Busters | Letterstories

  67. This is exactly why I hate BlackBerry Messenger. Ugh.

  68. Pingback: 8 Interpretations of Silence when using Instant Messaging (via The Couch Manager) « Normanomicon

  69. I’m usually….always….person B. My bad! I’m even like that talking on the phone! I try to multitask but I fail hard! It’s funny when this happens on the phone because the other person will be talking and then I never respond because I’m doing something else and then I hear “Hello! Hello!?” haha
    But back to MSN, most the time I read the message and forget to respond or I start typing and forget to press send. I’m sure it’s really annoying for the other person but if it is really important then I’m sure they would rather call me than tell me on MSN. I’m trying to get better at responding faster though!

  70. I was just thinking about this very thing tonight. I am person A.

    In our instant-everything society, however, I think this applies to just about every form of communication that exists now. This same scenario drives me batty with emails and texts too. I always try to assume that the problem is mine – I do take the silence personally! Even so, a little courtesy in conversation never hurts. After all, you would just turn on your heels and walk away from someone in person mid-conversation, would you? – Unless you were mad or offended or ignoring them, of course… which is kind of the point. :-)

  71. that was funny. I guess you will have to wonder what is really go on the other end. Time to eat

  72. Etiquette for IM – Good stuff.

  73. Will add this to some leadership training stuff. Thank you!

  74. I skip this problem entirely by asking something neutral-friendly first.

    For example, I would ask “Could I have a moment of your time?” to acquaintances. Or a more casual, “Hey can I ask you about something?”, maybe even “Do you have a min to chat?”

    The topic could be about anything, from casual to serious business; since they’re not mind readers they must make a choice to be silent or not. And it’s my personal experience that most people would rather be ‘in the know’ and not miss out on opportunities.

  75. One Change At A Time

    Funny Read! I especially like your title -“the art of managing from your couch” :) thanks for sharing.

    -The Change Revolution

  76. Thank you for sharing these IM tips. Love your illustration.

  77. I love how you explained the processes of finding out what their doing. I hate it when the do this, not only in business, but when your trying to talk to girls on Facebook. Haha, nice post.

  78. YES! I could not agree more. Silence during an instant message session is my biggest pet peeve!! It’s understandable that other distractions could come up, but if you can’t chat, at least say so! Thanks for posting! Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  79. I would not see it so categorically. In particular, the counter-part and the locale culture can be important. There are some people, e.g., who have constant chats active with half-a-dozen people, but very little activity (a handful of messages per day or less) and where the communications is deliberately asynchronous. In effect, this could be likened to a lightweight replacement for email or to texting-on-stereoids. A typical exchange could then validly have a one-line question from 10 AM being answered at 4 PM—and no other communications in that chat window.

  80. I didn’t even read the post yet. As soon as I saw the title of your blog I subscribed. Love it!

  81. Thank God I don’t IM. One less confusing interpretative situation in my life.

  82. I’m the worst at leaving people hanging. However, thanks to this very post, I will attempt to be better to my fellow chatters and not leave them hanging…

    …unless I want some form of sick revenge or am on a power trip.

  83. Brilliant! I get like this a lot in IM conversations, I thought I was just paranoid… excellent advice for person B, if everyone I spoke to online would conduct conversations this way it would save an awful lot of stress.

  84. I completely agree. I hate the silence. This also goes for text message silences. I especially hate BalckBerry Messenger silences. I can tell whether you read my message or not, so please answer me. A simple “OK” would suffice in an emergency.

  85. wordsfromyonder

    I couldnt agree more, so many times, I see the IM grey hint saying “Person B is typing” and it takes forever to come out since folks just keep on rethinking their thoughts. Itd be better if they just say “This is what i think…” and then take time to write out their thoughts. That silence could be a killer monster like you pointed out.
    I like your blog, may I add you to my blog roll?

  86. there is so much truth in this post! and it happens more often than most people are willing to admit, I bet.
    I am also an avid user of instant messaging and I can’t stand the silence! some forewarning would be nice!

    I feel like it equates to hanging up from a phone conversation without a “goodbye” cue of some kind

  87. I couldn’t agree more. I knew someone who was in a management level position in a state organization who often refused to respond to text messages, even if she initiated them. She wondered why she was seldom promoted and blamed her boss for not liking her or being out to get her. Honestly, she was rude, immature and often crass when it came to responding for any reasons. She’d get angry because she’d be silent, you’d text wondering if she was okay (she’s diabetic), and later complained about the “drama” but never considered she was the problem. Had she replied with a simple response, further messages would have ceased and all would be fine. Instead, her silence created hard feelings, anger, misunderstandings and miscommunications. Unless it served her purpose, answering texts were beneath her… too sad, and she wondered why people hated working for her.

  88. This happens to me all of the time. Even though i hardly act in this way it was useful to know some ways to tackle the issue. Thanks. By the way for all those who do not take the advise, maybe some day it will happen to you too. Personally i think it is extremely rude and time consuming.

  89. Great scott, this is infuriating on so many levels.
    I can’t count how many times a conversation-business or not-just dies, due to Person B’s lack of response. Hello? Are you there?

    A simple “brb” is sufficient, or a “Hang on”-but don’t just leave it there, open! In real life interactions, you can’t do that. So, don’t do it on here just because I’m not sitting right next to you, staring at you!

  90. I was wondering about this same question regarding my prayers to God.
    I’m always like, “Are you there God? Its me McGivern.”
    And the cold silence is jarring and soul-withering.
    The more things change the more they stay the same I guess.
    If you can’t get someone’s attention by burning incense and speaking in tongues why should IMing work?
    But if you need to feel heard, cared for, and be given a sense of metaphysical meaning, I suggest the operators at AppleCare.

  91. Bwahaha! Hits so close to home! I hate when this happens via text message, too. The conversation is going on swimmingly and just when you need an answer, BOOM! (or the opposite) – Radio Silence.

    Blah. That’s the downside of texting, email and IM. You never REALLY know what the other person is saying.

    Love the blog! Congrats on being pressed!
    Xo,
    Bridget and the Girls with Prius Envy

  92. Yes, it’s very rude. It really doesn’t take much to type your whereabouts in the middle of a discussion.

  93. great thinking, and it always happens! trully when he/she didn’t much respect to us…. nice post!

  94. This should be applied to texting too. Especially, when you get a looooooonnnnng wait you go to thinking if you said the right or wrong thing.

  95. Nice one. This is the sum of IM etiquette. Apparently, not everyone has this. Thanks for the post.

    -Cha
    http://chaspalette.wordpress.com/

  96. I have found myself at times completely caught off guard by a bbm…and I am sitting there wondering how to reply, and the sender knows that you have recieved it..and instead of awkward silence I will reply with a LOL, which can be equally as bad as silence. Maybe sometimes when there is silence, it could be the sender who’s content left someone “speechless”
    There will always be pro’s and con’s to IM’s..maybe next time I will simply reply ‘brb” and give myself some time to consider my reply before offending the offender with a LOL…. ;)

  97. this happens to me a lot. there is always an awkward pause. ughh. i hate that. its just so weird. anyways, congrats on being freshly pressed! :]

  98. What do you do when you’re simply tired of the conversation, have tried to end it, but your messager keeps at you? When not of a business nature, I must admit, guilty as charged; silence sometimes more polite than bluntness.

  99. ( insert awkward silence turtle emoticon here) very funny… brb

  100. now is the worse part when they come back and say ‘oh sorry, i forgot to reply’????

  101. Awesome post! :) Very true! :)

    Cheers
    Niconica
    http://niconica.wordpress.com

  102. Ok, first off, I loved the pictorial illustration of what goes through Person A’s head when person B goes silent. This post caught my eye because I find myself being in person A’s shoes as well as person B’s at different times so can relate to both, hahaha *sheepish titter*
    It used to bug the hell out of me in my early days as chatter/chattee, but it seems I give as good as I get, not intentionally, but often because I’m either multitasking, or because a particular question or thread of conversation leaves me speechless and/or floundering for words. I usually pick up where I have left off, sometimes even after a day or two (much to the bewilderment of the chattee). In my defense, I can only say it is never anything urgent or work-related, though I’m sure it has similar effects in terms of leaving the other person feeling rather frustrated. :)

  103. Pingback: A Little IM Etiquette « Bobbie Lynn's Blog

  104. Love this POST, great diagram. So true, many of us can relate to this. As my Granny would say- “You hit the nail straight on its head.” Call it the psychology of IM’s.

  105. This post is very good – I often find myself trying to ‘read in’ to what the person on the other end of the IM is thinking when there is no response. Almost all of the time, the person ended up being interrupted, called away, or otherwise distracted from the conversation. We’ve developed an all-new “digital paranoia” when it comes to non-verbal, instantaneous communication mediums.

  106. This little lesson in etiquette will be as effective as shouting warnings to people in a gale.

  107. This is a great post, I’m going to be following your blog from now on. Thank you Freshly Pressed!

  108. btw, I just shared your post on my facebook wall, hope you don’t mind ;)

  109. Gosh this blog entry resonates with me so much!!! I reckon men are much more guilty of this than women are; it’s something they do in their social relationships, it’s not confined to work – it’s infuriating because silence maybe beautiful but fact is it is without boundaries – so interpretations of it are almost limitless in their potentiality. For the insecure, irritable and impatient the range of meanings taken to be probable are NOT GOOD lol ;-)

    • You, in turn, appear to do something that women are much more guilty of: To confuse your own preferences with what is objectively right. (As opposed to merely your own preferences.) Even in the case above (cf. my previous comment) it is not a given that the silence is a problem; and looking at life as a whole a strong case can be made, applying typical male preferences, that men communicate better—in particular when it comes to silence…

      • I love this.

        woman: I agree with this post! I shall reiterate it, using broadly sexist generalities.
        man: You are wrong because you are a woman and women confuse what they think with what is real. I know what is real because I am a man and being a man makes me objective. I shall now reiterate the post that we both agreed with and use it to prove you are incapable of reasoned thinking, ie. being a man.

        Michael Eriksson,
        1) There is no such thing as Objectively Right when it comes to culture. Cultural mores are inherently not objective.
        2) You’re using Janie’s complaint about men to complain about women, and simultaneously claim you’re not complaining about women because men communicate “better” and more “objectively”, which you only are able to determine objectively, because you are a man.
        It’s an incredibly stupid — and illogical and insulting and sexist — argument for a lot of reasons, but the funniest reason is because
        3) You and Janie agree.

      • I have honest problems understanding how you land at the interpretation of my commment that you (in my interpretation) seem to land on. Most importantly, that there is no objective right in this issue, but just personal preference, is the very point of my comment. Note that I explicitly qualify the men’s POV with “applying typical male preferences”.

        In addition, claims about “man: You are wrong because you are a woman” are usually based in a misattributation of motive or otherwise incorrect. Among the adult men I know (and from what I have observed in e.g. the blogosphere), this position is basically unheard of. The true reason is typically that he says that the woman is wrong because he thinks that she has her facts backwards, has not understood the reasoning, whatnot—and this would apply to men making the same claim too. The one border-line correct case I can think of, off the top of my head, would be when someone jumps to conclusions about someone elses background or interests (something which we all do resp. are victims off every now and then)—and they happen to be a man and woman discussing something “male” (e.g. Nascar racing). Even here, however, it is not “because you are a woman, you are wrong”, but “because you are a woman, I assume that you do not follow Nascar”—which even when incorrect is a far smaller error of thinking (and one that women make too in the other direction).

  110. Hahahaha.. I love ur lines.. even I am one of the Silent actor in IM… but from now on I wont forget to write atleast BRB.

  111. I can relate to the typing-stopping act. I do that sometimes. But I’ve also learned one way of dealing with this: when I don’t know how to answer to a question, I sometimes type random letters to the chat window to let the person know that I’m still there and typing, all while I’m thinking… Then when I finally think about my response, I delete whatever nonsense I’ve typed and input my answer to the question.

  112. Shamefully, I admit that I do this sometimes as much as I dislike it when it happens to me. Especially with texting these days too.

  113. Please!!! for god’s sake!! reply!! ^^

  114. Does it count when you actually don’t feel like replying sometimes, because the other person will just go on and on and on? Meh.. great blog though!

  115. interesting post! thanks for the input! love the drawing.

    and yeah, I mostly agree. It’s annoying and you keep the other person waiting. if it’s business talk or personal questions, it’s always bad to keep the other one waiting too long.

    on the other hand, I think if you write “let me think about it” and then let the other one wait for quite some time.. it might be even weirder or more difficult for the other person to wait for your answer.

    I also think, IMing should have its advantages too, compared to emailing you don’t have to wait that long for a response, but compared to speaking on the phone you sometimes have to wait longer and you can take your time to think about an answer without letting the other one know. besides, if we’re chatting with several people at the same time, the let-me-think-drop-off rate mostly isn’t that high and we can just simply wait.

    I’ll consider a “let me think” anyway next time. :)

  116. I love this post. Its so true.

  117. So true. I have to admit that whenever there is a silence on the other end, I find myself beginning to internally panic or kick myself. I would say that nine times out of ten the quiet on the other end has nothing to do with me. It would be nice if A) I relaxed a little and had some faith in whatever it is that I’ve said and B) that the person on the other end of the line would somehow update their status so both myself and my ulcer could peacefully relax. :) I enjoyed the post and the picture! Thank you.

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  120. Oh My God. I love this post, people should read these kinds of stuff more instead of searching up for useless things.

  121. I like this post, but for me the issue is the over-use and abuse of technology. If we had more real conversations – and less IM, email, txt, facebook etc.- we wouldn’t have all these unsettling ‘what if’ thoughts: what if they disagree? what if they’ve forgotten? what if they don’t think I’m worth a reply? Not good for our relationships, and may be not good for our mental health. See my recent post : Stop Messaging, Start Communicating
    http://spincop.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/stop-messaging-start-communicating/

  122. While universally appreciated manners are useful, part of me would argue that it is the fault of management for having these worries.

    I understand the benefits of IM, and would widely encourage its use – but I do believe it is up to the person in charge to make explicit their protocols for using it. Essentially, that is what you have done here.

    The onus should not be on the users to have read a code of conduct, but on the management to ensure they do.

  123. amandasperspective

    I take it this just happened to you before you blogged about it. It is a pet peeve, but it goes WAY beyond the workplace…to social situations…I mean if we are at work we can’t always respond right away to friends on IM, but simply ignoring someone or stepping out mid-convo is just as frustrating! Disappearing acts and slow responders are among things that annoy me most, especially when I have something to say!

  124. I agree. It is rather sad how there isn’t some sort of written code of conduct or manners guide for internet users. It’s also sad how difficult it is for people to right a decent email these days.

  125. Ah, the courtesy of responding. Communication is communication, without regard for the media. Thanks for the insight.

  126. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Great post!

    I wish IM was like BlackBerry: D for delivered and R for read, so you know you’re being ignored when they don’t answer after the R pops up! Not sure if that’s comforting or causing more self-esteem issues in BlackBerry users the world over…

    Drive on,
    – M.

  127. I like your post. Thanks for the reminders too.
    In addition, it would be good to also always give the benefit of the doubt to the other person if he/she remains silent. They may have other valid reasons not specified above.

    Giving meaning to other people’s silence will not always do good but overlooking an offense will. :)

    Cheers,
    Adrian
    http://seekersportal.wordpress.com

  128. Such a good idea cause it drives me crazy when it happens to me!!!!

  129. I love the diagram. Seriously funny. I deal with this a lot as well.

    -Renee’
    @funcitygal

  130. hehe great post!

  131. Can’t be more true. Nice post.

  132. I thought #9 was “Are you IM’ing with someone else?”

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  135. Indeed an awesome post, worthy of Freshly Pressed, as it thoroughly distracted me . o O ( Now, what I going to blog about…?? ). At least it inspired a related blog post of my own: Combating I’M insecure LOL!

    PS – Thanks for the comment help. :)

  136. So, we have lots of people who can relate to the main complaint (or peeve) made in this post and who share their frustrations in their comments. And many of those comments call for better protocols when using messaging technology to communicate. The protocols are designed to ensure that the person waiting for a response understands why they are waiting. But just how far are we prepared to take this? 1 = I am thinking over my response; 2 = I am busy doing something else; 3= I’m not going to reply, ever because you are boring; 4 = Lucky Dip (i.e. an app will select a reply for you because you can’t be bothered) etc. How long will it be before we have an automated reply handling capability that messages back ‘Your IM is important to me, but I am experiencing very high message volumes currently and it may take me a while to respond’. This would be a particularly appropriate response to an incoming message saying ‘Help, I’m feeling suicidally lonely’. Using all this stuff indiscriminately does not facilitate genuine communication. The best you can hope for is to ‘ping’ and be ‘pinged back’. This is what servers do. But unlike people, servers don’t worry about whether they’ve been disrepected if they don’t get pinged back quickly enough. They just return an error code and keep on pinging.

  137. This is so true. Its happens with me all the time. :P
    Good blog.

  138. And then you call them and they don’t answer their phone which makes you more suspicious and/or mad.
    Like when you are stuck in really bad traffic on the freeway and you think, “There better be an accident up there if this traffic is so bad” and can’t believe you just thought that. “Their battery power better of died out and that’s why they aren’t responding”.
    Cool diagram. Very funny.

  139. I agree. It drives me MAD when people do a disappearing act on me.

  140. Great post, I am the king of ignoring, so I can relate. ZW

  141. Thank you all for your great comments! Although I wasn’t able to reply to everyone, I did read every single comment and appreciate your kind feedback.

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  143. Well, that often leads to misunderstandings which further leads to further miscommunication issues.

    Pranav Garg,
    http://xenme.wordpress.com/

  144. I agree. It drives me MAD when people do a disappearing act on me.

  145. Can’t be more true. Nice post.

  146. Excellent post and very true. Instant Messenger is the thing to use if someone has to multitask. I’ve had people tell me they do dishes, fold laundry, go to the bathroom, walk their dog…the list goes on, all while IM’ing. Let’s not even get into multiple IMs running and responding to the wrong one…big OOPS! From what I’ve heard, that in itself is rather awkward.

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  151. I think if you can stay invisible it helps a lot. I turned mine off at work and people got pissed at me for not being accessible. I told them to e-mail me or walk to my desk. That didn’t fly well with my head boss and I ended up having to turn it on. It’s a total concentration breaker when you have someone write you while you’re in the middle of something important. So, I kept mine on but set it to “busy” haa. Then someone said “you seem to always be busy!” I said yup! HA

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