Trying to get out of a group text without insulting its members? It's a more common problem than you'd think. You have a few options.
Have you ever gotten stuck on a very active group text that keeps blowing up your phone? Do you desperately want to get out of it? Here’s a question from a listener about this very issue that many of us have had to deal with.
I have learned so much from your podcasts and from Smart Talk. I have a question that has come up enough times to merit asking you about it. Maybe you could add it to your list of topics to cover.
How does one ask to be removed from a group text without causing offense? In my case it has happened in family texts and in departmental text threads. At the very least I have texted, “Could you please remove me from this text?” and I have sent a whole long explanation about why I preferred to be excluded at that time.
No matter how I word it, someone always gets snitty.
One Solution: Ignore It
Here’s the thing—when you want to leave a group text (three or more people), it can feel like rejection to the others. And did you might not know that our brains respond similarly to rejection and physical pain. Studies show that rejection really hurts. In fact, according to MRI results, rejection stimulates the same regions of the brain as physical pain does. In addition, many studies suggest that even mild rejections lead people to take out their aggression on others. It makes sense because, according to Jean Twenge, an NIH researcher in social rejection, "Humans have evolved into creatures motivated to form stable, lasting relationships with others. This is deeply embedded in the culture."
Add to the fact that communicating your desire to leave the group via text or email makes your request seem somewhat impersonal. It’s so difficult, without voice tone or facial expression, to mitigate the abruptness of words on paper. Hence, the invention of emoticons. And although they help in personal communication, they aren’t the same as face-to-face communication (and certainly aren't appropriate for work communication). So it’s not surprising that when you explicitly ask to leave a group text, some people might get snitty.
So, my advice? Just mute the conversation and let it run its course and eventually die off.
Another Solution: Remove Yourself Quietly
But if you really want to be removed from the group, you do have another alternative: remove yourself. In most text applications, you can choose to leave the conversation yourself.
I know on an iPhone you can remove yourself from a group text, but the downfall of this is that it does notify everyone that you left the group—so they might still get ruffled. Certainly when you leave a group, it may cause questions, but more likely it will bring offense and petty issues.
Solutions by Software
Again, muting is an alternative (and I think the best alternative). Let’s say you are away for the weekend and you just don’t want to hear all the conversation from family members who are planning a birthday party this weekend. On an iPhone, you can mute a conversation —that is not get notifications for it (Go into “Details” and select “Do Not Disturb.") This might be better if you want to avoid hurt feelings, or if you prefer to be in stealth mode. For instance, if you are away, you can just ignore all of those texts and just turn the notifications back on again when you return home. This might be best from a work standpoint, as well, for instance when on vacation. You can still read and respond by looking at the stream, but you won’t get those annoying beeps or buzzes every time you get a message. This way, you can choose to look at the stream on whatever schedule you want—once a day, once a week, or never!
On Skype and Facebook Messenger, you can also "leave the conversation” on your own, but again, the others will again be notified. In the wildly popular What’s App, you can mute a group chat too.
I did read about an application available for Android, which actually allows you to leave a group completely without the other members of the group knowing. It’s called GroupXit, but I've never used it, so I can't say if it's worth the money.
Of course, if you have an old flip-up phone, however, you've got a built-in excuse. I have a friend who gets included in family group texts, but has an old phone. It’s not at all easy to access pictures or texts, and he has to type the letters on the numbers to send a text. It takes 20 minutes for him to type a sentence! So he does ask to be removed, simply explaining he can’t see or send texts easily. That seems to be a good enough excuse for him!
For me, I don't have texting included in my phone plan (Yes, it's true! We are on a old plan that doesn't include texting). So instead, I have people text to my work number, which is a Google Voice number. When I get a text, it will be delivered to my email. Then on my email, I have a filter set up for text messages. This way, I can look at them when I want to and not have them be disturbing to me. Of course, the downfall of this approach is that if someone sends me an urgent text, I may miss it. So, for family, close friends, and clients on the of an event, I give them a different number that I do monitor closely.
Ultimately, only you can determine the best solution that works for each situation.
This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence. If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business.
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