Don’t make this mistake in a group chat

We've all been there. The banter on the group chat is sparkling and someone comes along and ruins the flow.

There's the spammer who lights the chat up with endless posts, the downer who kills the gag, or the lurker who leaves everyone on read.

But according to a new guide by etiquette experts Debrett's in partnership with Messenger from Facebook, there are 10 cardinal sins for online or text communication.

While it may be a bit suss to count on a stuffy house of manners to determine what will fly on one of the most informal communication platforms there is, it's still worth taking a look at the top 10 do's and don'ts for modern-day texters.


While there's no harm in a little irony now and then, no one will be happy with you if they can never tell when you're actually being serious.

Debrett's recommends keeping things neutral and upbeat, especially with people you don't know as well.

If you're gonna rely on irony, at least clarify things with the eye-roll emoji or the ~increasingly popular and extremely trending~ tilde brackets to indicate sarcasm.


Second on the list of 10 recommendations is to keep things short. A few sentences should be enough to get your message across - especially when talking to someone you're not exceptionally tight with.

On the other hand, don't err too far on the side of brevity.

Responding with a single emoji or the dreaded one word response should be avoided because it makes you look like you're not interested.

Messages should instead be stretched to at least a short sentence - but it doesn't need to be a tome. The average length of a Messenger text is just five words.


Texting is one of the most popular communication forms today, but there’s an art to doing it properly.
Texting is one of the most popular communication forms today, but there’s an art to doing it properly.



This average is skewed lower by people sending shorter messages back to back, rather than one self-contained message., but this bite-sized approach comes with its own set of problems.

"There is definitely a lot of variance in what people deem an appropriate message length," Debrett's etiquette expert Katherine Lewis said.

"Some people like to arrange their thoughts in one concise message, while others may text in a stream of consciousness as they think of what they want to say."

The important thing is to give others the chance to speak, so when you see those three bouncing bubbles it might be best to take a step back.

"If you can see they are typing, let them have the next word," she said.

It's also recommended you keep conversations that don't involve the whole group out of the group chat. No one wants their phone blowing up with their friends making plans while they're stuck in the office.

Take it to a smaller group or message each other directly instead.


If someone told you something in private then chances are it's probably just for you.

The group chat can go off and if you add enough ingredients it doesn't take long before things can get a little spicy for some tastes, and if it's coming at the end of a prolonged banter battle it's easy to let emotions get ahead of you in pursuit of victory.

Odds are there are people in the group chat who don't necessarily want everyone else in the chat knowing certain things, so avoid putting them on blast by bringing up something they're embarrassed about or may have told you in confidence, even if it will make it rain flame emojis.


Gwen Stefani gave us a whole song on the potential consequences of talking sh*t about someone when you didn't think that they would hear it, so when you're added to a new group chat, make sure you know who else is in there first.

Trash talk is trash talk but you'll lose plausible deniability if you make an earnest behind the back comment on someone only to quickly find they can read what you've posted.

Knowing your audience will also help avoid an uncomfortable Christmas when you accidentally burn a relative in the family chat only to find out they've been silently monitoring the thread this whole time.





Group chat etiquette necessitates supporting the whole group.

If you see someone has sent a message that no one has responded to, it's best to get in quick if only to keep things moving.

Even reacting with a thumbs up or emoji can be enough.

If someone in the group is being consistently ignored it might be time to have a conversation with them about why.

It can put a strain on the relationships if others in the chat aren't practising good etiquette, so it's best to tackle the problem head on, but tactfully.

"Starting a conversation about what is and what isn't appropriate can be tricky, so try to be honest and constructive with the person, and if it doesn't feel right to say something in the group chat, you can also always send them a direct one-on-one message," Ms Lewis said.

Alternatively (and this is a slightly more devious workaround), enable push notifications that allow you to read a message from your lock screen without actually opening it.

"If you're the receiver and a message does not demand an urgent reply, it's best to leave it unread until you have time to respond, otherwise it could look like you are ignoring the sender," Ms Lewis said.


While the polite thing to do is make sure you respond to messages in a timely fashion, in life you'll know you can't always count on people to be as courteous as you endeavour to be.

If you find yourself getting straight-up ignored and you feel you need a response, wait a while before bugging anyone for a response.

Twenty-four hours oughta do it.




"Ghosting", the act of seeing a message and never replying, isn't a good habit to get into but it's one that's made all the more difficult by the advent of read and seen receipts.

Sixty-one per cent of Australians surveyed said they would check if someone saw their message via read receipts.

While it's incredibly tempting to avoid the awkward confrontation, ghosting on a message is a coward's move, and can trigger anxiety and uncertainty in other people.

The distance of communicating through words on a phone screen rather than face-to-face should at least soften the awkwardness from putting your foot down if you need to leave the convo.


We all need a break sometimes.

Whether it's time to focus on work or study or you've just gotten sick of seeing last season's memes, there's a way to walk away.

The best advice is to formulate an exit strategy using a brief explanation that's as close to the truth as possible.

Explaining that you have a hard deadline to meet or need to focus on something else is best followed up by leaving straight away, that way you're out of the convo and everyone knows why.

Another option to consider is simply muting the chat until you're ready to come back but, be forewarned, group chats are a bit like fires: the one you leave is never the same one you come back to.


While it might be fun to mock older relatives for ending every message like it's a handwritten letter, it's actually recommended to let other people know when you're shifting your attention away from the chat, even if it's as simple as a TTYL or BRB. (That's "talk to you later" and "be right back" for the uninitiated.)

But while it may be common courtesy, it isn't common practice: less than half of people actually "sign off" at the end of a chat, with the rest adopting the "never ending conversation" approach that allows for dipping in and out of a chat over the course of a day.

Knowing your audience will help determine whether you need to say goodbye before leaving.

The digital etiquette tips come from a survey of more than 3600 people aged between 18 and 64 in Australia, the UK and US, as well as internal data from Facebook and its Messenger app.

What's your group chat gripe? Comment below

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