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Unwanted Text Messages

My husband works with several single ladies. We both are uncomfortable with the single ladies text messaging him about non-work related matters. How can he communicate this boundary without being rude? Should he just not respond or should he say something?

B. G., Gholson, TX

That’s awkward. Certainly, simply not responding would be rude. People resent being ignored and not responding to a text message is the equivalent of ignoring the sender.

Are the text messages innocuous ramblings? If they are, he can try responding with a simple “Thanks for the message” or “Got it”. While it may not stop the messages, it also doesn’t encourage further “conversation”. He can also wait a day or two before responding. While I recommend that most messages should be responded to within 24 hours, by waiting he shows he is not interested in a continued text message conversation.

If the messages are in the form of a question, he’s got more of a dilemma. Not answering would be rude, but answering engages him in a conversation that could continue back and forth numerous times. At this point he does need to say something. He also needs to say something if the texts are inappropriate or provocative. The key is to do it tactfully. “Jane, thanks, I got your text. In the future I’d appreciate it if we kept text messages to work matters only. That would really help me stay focused on my job while I’m here, and on my family during off-hours. Thank you.”

The more I travel and teach, the more convinced I am that texting is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in the office. Receiving personal phone calls is a big enough problem,but at least it is easy for others at work to see it happening. Personal texting at work is a game changer because it is so easy to do it without being caught. Businesses are recognizing the cost in reduced productivity, and they will not stand idly by. Personal calls, texts, emails, IM’s – not to mention non-business web browsing and sneak peeks at social network updates are becoming commonplace in the workplace, and companies are initiating crackdowns. Even if your company doesn’t have a “rule,” if you make or receive personal calls or text messages, others including your boss, will notice, and it will not do your image or future success any good.

The best option for workers with smart phones and cell phones is to turn them off or put them on vibrate and not respond unless it is a legitimate business call or text message. Use break time and lunchtime to respond- that’s your time. While at work, your focus should be on your work.

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