For the sake of your friendships, relationships, and career, it’s important to know when to keep your thumbs from doing the talking.
Break up with someone
Whether you went on two dates or were in a committed relationship for a year, ending your romance via blue bubble is not only tacky, but very hurtful and disrespectful. That’s why online dating expert Julia Spira suggests going the necessary extra mile and picking up the phone. “I’ve seen someone pen paragraphs of a ‘Dear John’ letter via text. If you were close enough to be naked with someone and talk about the future at some point, have the courtesy to call or meet in person,” she says. “Sometimes there’s just a misunderstanding that could prevent a breakup.” These are the things you never, ever do after a breakup.
Cancel a date
Sometimes mustering up enough courage to go on a first date (or even a third one) is a feat in itself. But if you feel the urge to bail, whether you’ve met someone more interesting or you just feel like ghosting, pick up the phone, Spira says. “If someone is excited about the date and you say, ‘I have to cancel, sorry,’ it sends a message that you swiped right on a cuter option. Unless you know you’re going to reschedule—then you can say, ‘Something came up but I’d really love to reschedule. How’s Tuesday or Saturday?’ That way they know that they haven’t been deleted yet,” she explains. “Sometimes life gets in the way, but showing you want to move the relationship forward is a digital act of good faith.”
Deliver bad news
From the loss of your job to the loss of a loved one, bad news is always tough to relay. But when you’re about to tell someone something that could rock their reality or make them very upset, it’s important to prepare them as much as you can, and a text message doesn’t deliver seriousness in an effective way. “The other person can’t see your non-verbal signals, and your tone could be perceived as different from how you’re actually feeling,” explains licensed marriage and family therapist Courtney Geter. “Also, you don’t know what the other person is doing at that moment—they may not be in a position or situation to take bad news.” Obviously you wouldn’t want to get bad news right before a big meeting, test, or event. A better plan: Ask the person for a time to meet, and note that it’s urgent. Suggest a location that is private or semi-private without distraction. If a face-to-face meeting is not possible, find a time to talk on the phone when the conversation can be private and distraction-free.