How do you decide when a reply is required (email, text, etc.)?

I apparently mildly annoyed one of my friends this weekend without realizing it. She invited me out for an end of semester night with her nursing student friends (I’m a nursing student in another school, but hey, I’ll celebrate with them, sure!) and sent me an email that it would be Monday or Tuesday. I replied to the email that either night would work for me, thanks for the invite.

She sent me a text sometime this weekend that it would be Tuesday. I mentally filed away the information, but didn’t reply to the text. Today I got an email saying, “Are you having trouble with your text messages? I sent you a text and never heard back?!”

Er…okay. Sorry about that. I didn’t know a reply was required. I apologized, of course, and reiterated that Tuesday would be great, and invited her over for dinner tonight for good measure.

But it got me thinking, I often have trouble with stuff like this. Has this happened to you? How do you decide if a text/email requires a reply or not? When is the chain finished?

I think in this case I would have sent something like, “OK, Tuesday it is. See you then!” And then expect that to be the last one. Just to confirm that (1) yes, I received the info and (2) Tuesday was still good for me. You kind of left her hanging on these two points.

E-mails/texts can go astray so easily, I figure it’s better to confirm too much than not enough. When sending files to my clients, I try to ask them to confirm that they got them, and I send a confirmation when I receive files from them.

Yeah, if your first response had been something like “Yeah, I’ll definitely come on either M or Tu, just let me know which,” the second response wouldn’t’ve needed a reply. As it was, it was a bit up in the air.

As a general rule, when someone else will act or not act on the basis of the communication, a reply is needed. Here, plans were being made, but could not be finalized until you replied to confirm.

When everyone has all the information they need. One ‘thank you’ or ‘okay’ is allowed. I think you should have sent a final text.

Texts and emails are so wonderfully brief and convenient; it’s not like you have to write a salutation, greeting, message, and good-bye. “Tuesday then” is perfectly acceptable. There’s really no reason to NOT send a confirmation.

That being said, I do wish that I could just click a ‘message received’ button for a lot of my emails.

Yeah, a couple friends definitely get “k” as a reply. Easy enough.

Yup, I would have sent a, “Okay, see you Tuesday!” reply, too. I was in charge of scheduling group dinners for a while, and you’d be surprised how often emails get lost in the ether or people think they’ve emailed or whatever - best to nail things down when there are other people and plans involved.

Yeah, as soon as she let me know she didn’t get a reply, I saw why one would have been useful, even if just a “K”.

I hate “K” replies myself, mostly because I hate checking my phone for messages, but I guess I’ll start using them just to avoid misunderstandings. Texts are free, so I guess too many is better than not enough.

edit: Whoops wrong tab nevermind!

I had just this problem today, at a client site. They had said “Tuesday okay?” and I’d said “Yes, that’s fine.”

After that, they sent a follow-up email with some more questions to be answered on the day and also asked to confirm that I was coming on Tuesday. I missed the confirmation request, but as I had already confirmed, I didn’t think I needed to send another email.

I got there this morning and they had assumed I wasn’t coming, and although we sorted it out in the end, it was a bit embarassing. However, no real harm done. More confirmation is always better than less, from now on.

As already stated when making plans more info is better than less. You want to make sure they have all the information they need to know and know you are attending such event/party and so on. When just chatting the chatting can end whenever. When asking a favor it always ends with you thanking the person and making sure everything is set in stone as is opposite if they are asking the favor. But that is about all I can think of when coming to friends which is what I think your question was.

Why don’t people respond? Sorry, WhyNot, but this is one of the things that drives me batshit. If there’s ambiguity, please respond so I know my message got to you and I don’t need to follow up!

Well (and I’m not backpedalling here, I promise I have now absorbed the “more is better” lesson, just trying to explain my thought process at the time): I didn’t feel there *was *any ambiguity. I reviewed the events in my mind: first she said it would be A or B. I said either A or B would work. Then she said it would be B. Where’s the ambiguity? I already *said *B would work!

My pet peeve is the ones who don’t know when to stop, tapping on the phone pad like it’s a morphine pump in the last throes of death.

“We’re going out Tuesday”
“Tuesday then?”
“Sure, Tuesday”
“See you then.”
“Okay. Bye!”


" :-)"

GAH! Put your damn phone away already!

Yeah, that drives me crazy on the phone, too - when people can’t just say “bye” and hang up!

But don’t worry, I forgive you for not responding. :slight_smile:

(Now I don’t know if I should respond to this post. :p)

Yeah, you have to respond, confirmation responses are cheap and if you’re important enough that you get too many to keep up with, you probably should get an assistant to do it for you.

Before I went back to school I worked in a niche federal practice and so I was dealing with law firms and attorneys all over the country and the coordination costs on all my deals were super high. I can’t imagine not responding to someone who sends me an email like “we’re confirmed for the deal on Tuesday, right?” even if I’ve said yes over the phone, because shit changed last minute for us depending on the whims of the banks and the agency and what the clients needed/wanted. Similarly, if a condition changed and I knew it was worthless for the firm to send an attorney out to Los Angeles because there was an insurmountable obstacle between the regulators and the banks…and I send a freaking email being like “don’t come!” I expected some confirmation that the attorney was not actually going to show up expecting the transaction to close that day. I worked with one lawyer across the country who just really careless about it and finally I just got really irritable and complained to the partner when he finally came out for a deal.

Imagine the conversation in person, or maybe even on the phone. After she said, “OK, it’ll be B,” would you just ignore her after that? Or just hang up the phone? No, you would say (at the minimum), “OK.”

Ever hear the joke about the kid who didn’t talk, and didn’t talk, and didn’t talk? His parents took him to all kinds of doctors and therapists, and they could find nothing wrong. Then one day when the kid was six years old, he spouts at the breakfast table, “Hey, this toast is burned!” Much fuss was made, and finally someone asked him why he was only now talking. He said, “Well, up until now, everything was fine.”

Social lubricant is important. Use it!

Obviously one does not need to reply to every e-mail received with “I got your e-mail”, but there are exceptions. Some people need to know you received their e-mail. For example, when I write proposals, I often need inputs from my engineers. Let’s say I know the input is due in a week, but will only take the engineer a day to write. I usually make the request due in 4-5 days. If they haven’t replied in a day or two, I make it a habit to follow up and say, “do you have any questions about what I need on that input?” 50% of the time I get a “no, I understand what you want but haven’t had time to do it yet”, the other 50% of the time, they haven’t even read my e-mail yet, which gets them to and gets me a more rapid response.

I can’t tell you the number of times I used to just trust the engineers to write something and gave them the entire week. Many were notorious for not opening the e-mail until five minutes before it was due and then either claiming they couldn’t do it and try to task someone else (which they could have done a week prior if that was true), or they waste your time cutting and pasting unrelated garbage into their input and somehow hope you won’t notice. After getting burned with that, I now make an effort to figure out who the people are who I can trust and who trust me and remind (or reply) accordingly based on their expectations, nervousness, and apathy. With a new person, I treat them normally until I get some indication that need a ‘special reply’ treatment, which usually becomes apparent pretty quickly.

if someone is telling me a time or place then I reply to let them know I got it. If they don’t hear from me then it’s entirely possible I didn’t receive or didn’t notice the text, and then they’re waiting for me, I don’t show up because I didn’t hear from them and assumed it was off, etc.

Also her reply doesn’t sound really that annoyed to me. She wanted to know that you got the message, one possible reason you wouldn’t is that you were having problems with your phone. I have people tell me all the time “Hey your voicemail is full” or whatever. People usually don’t call their own phone numbers so the only way they’d know about a problem is that someone tells them about it.

Oh, no, she wasn’t really annoyed like it affected our friendship or anything. And it was sweet of her to let me know in case there was an error - and also so now I know to “overtext” in my mind, with her. It was a sweet and graceful way to let me know I’d made a social faux pas as well as check that there wasn’t a technological issue. That’s because she’s a sweet and graceful person - which are two of the many reasons she’s my friend! :smiley: