Whether it’s your family WhatsApp group or your office Slack channel, there are a lot of unwritten rules to group chat etiquette.
Rude exchanges can go from mildly annoying to insanely disruptive, and others in the group may very likely create new groups to exclude an offender rather than to confront transgressions.
When group chats go from random banter to jabs, it can turn ugly. Avoid muted chats, blocked participants and reported messages by steering clear of these group chat and group texting no-nos:
Do Not Ask Everyone To Summarize The Chats You Missed
It’s fine to check your group threads after a few hours or even days, but if there’s a long discussion, it’s polite to at least skim the messages before asking for a conclusion.
Questions like “What did I miss?” or “Catch me up?” are perceived as rude if all that info has already been outlined before your latest login.
Do everyone a favor and pretend to care by reading the messages already in the group chat before launching back into the chatter.
Do Not Send Inappropriate Images And Videos
This is not exclusive to unsolicited nudes, à la vintage Snapchat. Instead, avoid anything violent, gory or gross without fair warning and firm confirmation that everyone wants to see it.
Trust me, not everyone wants to see your surgery pics or links to videos that merit trigger warnings. Remember, people often share devices with children and partners, so inappropriate images can snowball into major issues offline.
Do Not Add New People Without Asking The Current Members
Many of us don’t like being around strangers in real life. The same is true in group chat.
It is rude to add new people into groups without consulting the existing members first. On the flip side, it is also rude to invite people to groups without explanation. It is just plain silly to add people to groups with people they don’t know, with no introduction, or to groups about topics they’re not interested in.
Groups in WhatsApp boldly display when members leave, drawing even more unwanted attention. Adding the wrong people to the group can make the new addition feel trapped and the other members supremely uncomfortable.
Do Not Have One-On-One Conversations
When a group conversation descends into a one-on-one, it turns into a train wreck for the other members who can’t turn away but are completely turned off by what they’re seeing.
Sometimes two people can’t reach a consensus, and the convo turns into a public fight, complete with personal insults and name-calling. Other times, friends exchange inside jokes that only a few people in the group know.
Either way, the appropriate thing to do is to use direct messages or, if you know the person, pick up the phone and talk. When group chats turn into a one-on-one, it is an indication that it might be time to do away with the group altogether.
Do Not Give One-Word Answers
Group chats are meant for speedy communication that is so clear it’s not worth opening your mouth. Miscommunication and hurt feelings can result from one-word answers like “OK,” “Sure,” “No,” “Yes” and “Right” after someone else has poured their heart out.
Unless you’re writing laudatory statements that convey clear tones, take the time to write out what you mean. Change “What?” to “I don’t think I understand what you mean. Can you explain?” or “Where?” to “Where Should We Meet?” Use the “reply thread” options to loop back to the exact part of the chat you’re responding to. Leave voice notes if you need to go hands-free.
Reserve one-word answers to “Congrats,” “Yasssssss” and well-understood facial expression emojis.
Do Not Assume They Won’t Get The Notification Until Later
Another thing that really ticks people off is a poorly timed message.
Early morning and late-night messages can be perceived as rude, especially to parents of young children or people who work night shifts and rotations. This is because some people rely on notifications and alarms to keep them abreast of important information, and these ill-timed messages can be very disruptive.
If your group is for work, consider the messages you send outside of normal work hours. Some people are protective of their time and mental space when they’re off the clock. Be sure to ask if anyone in the group has preferred blackout times or if they put devices on sleep mode. Armed with this knowledge, you can avoid agitating people unnecessarily.
Do Not Forget That What Happens In The Group Stays In The Group
It’s weird to expect a semblance of privacy online or between texters, but the truth is that most of us want group chats to be safe spaces, even if no one has verbalized it. Very rarely is info from group channels meant to be shared openly. This means that personal data, photos and videos shared in the group are not to be forwarded without permission.
If it’s unclear, ask the sender directly.
If you feel compelled to take screenshots, better known as “receipts,” then know that the group isn’t safe. Rather than put yourself in a position to out people from the group, consider exiting the group or reporting the content if it violates platform rules.
Do Not Be Rude, Seriously
Some actions may be perceived as rude, like the ones above, while others are intentionally so. It should go without saying, but don’t actually do or say anything rude. This includes repeatedly ignoring valid questions or comments from one or more individuals, launching into personal attacks, turning disagreements into full-on arguments, using profanity or slurs and taking any other offline action that a normal person would consider threatening or offensive. If you know the group members personally, keep their personalities in mind, and don’t push buttons or provoke animosity.
Do Not Forward Suspicious Content
Just like you’re not supposed to forward a phishing email to your work buddies to ask, “Hey, does this look real to you?” avoid dropping links to sketchy sites in group chat.
A sure-fire way to anger everyone in the group is to send malware, ransomware or anything that could lead to identity theft or device failure. Run cybersecurity checks on your own devices regularly, and only share content from reputable sites and individuals.
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