Are You Call Back Worthy?

If someone calls you and you respond back with a curt text message, it might be interpreted as rude (because it is). Modern Manners Guy wonders: Are you call back worthy?

Richie Frieman

If you’re new to Modern Manners Guy, allow me to introduce myself: My name is Richie Frieman, 36, from Baltimore and I absolutely loathe texting. Seriously. I can’t stand long texts that look like novels, or group texts where everyone goes back and forth for hours on end.

Check out my article on texting etiquette called To Text Or Not To Text?

Now, despite my dislike for texting, I recognize that it’s sometimes more convenient to text, “I’m on my way,” or “Did you want a venti or grande?” than making a phone call. Texting is very black and white and should only be used for those instances where a simple answer is required. My issue is when people use texting as their preferred method for actual communication.

Case in point, a Modern Manners Guy Facebook friend named Keith told me, “The other day someone responded back to my voicemail with a text saying, ‘You rang?’”

Keith was upset and rightfully so. “Yes I did call you," he wanted to yell. "So use the phone in your hand to call me back!” But thankfully, since he's an avid Modern Manners Guy listener, he didn’t lash out. This illustrates a perfect example of the wrong way to use texting. When you text someone, “You rang?” after they take the time to call you, it looks like the texter doesn't judge the caller to be “call back worthy.”

Texting has allowed us to classify the people in our lives into two camps: the people whose calls we answer and the people who can wait. When you text someone back instead of returning their call, it means the caller wasn’t very important to you. I highly recommend that if you’re not interested in actually calling them back, you do one of two things: Either ignore them entirely (and the caller will never know) or if you must, text them saying, “I saw you called but I can’t chat right now. I’ll buzz you in a bit.” And then actually do it.

If you do text back, it has to be with good reason: “I was in a meeting and couldn’t talk,” “I was in a crowded elevator and I couldn’t talk,” “I was mourning the fact that Zayn just left One Direction and I couldn’t even breathe!” You know, real world adult stuff and all totally understandable. The key is to not make the caller feel irrelevant.

If you’re on the receiving end of a text snub, there are two things you can do.

For starters, don’t engage in a back and forth texting conversation (unless it’s vital and that’s why you called) as this perpetuates the rude behavior. Secondly, when they finally do call back, say something like, “You know, the same device you use to text with can also be used to return my call.” A little snarky? Perhaps. But it's for a goood cause.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Woman texting photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Richie Frieman
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