For those who remember a time without mobile phones, do you ever ask yourself how did we survive, and then surprise yourself with how incredibly easy and uncomplicated life was back then?
These days, a phone call is only for emergencies, you know something’s up when you get a call. It’s almost foreign, we pause for a second and think “why isn’t he/she just sending me a message?”. Whatsapp is now the everyday, courteous method to reach people, and let’s face it – it’s super convenient. Read a message, and respond to it when you have the time.
But consider this for a few seconds, with all this freedom there are some dangers. Especially when it comes to group conversations and people tend to forget that there are certain hidden rules/etiquettes that must be respected. Though we never say it out loud, we just hope people would understand because we think it’s common decency, but for the greater good, we think it might help to spell it out just in case there’s any ambiguity.
Here’s our list of Whatsapp etiquette to be mindful of
(for both 1-to-1 chats and group conversations)
1. Read and respond lag
Whatsapp now allows users to know when someone is Online, their last seen timestamp, and the blue ticks to indicate a message has been read.
Here’s the thing though, we need to understand that people are online for various reasons and we’re constantly juggling between different conversations all at one go. We may have read your message, but this doesn’t mean we need to immediately respond.
Even though it’s an instant chat app, we still live in a world of various commitments (work, family, personal), so we will reply when the time is right. Perhaps I’m busy now, and want to respond when I can give you the attention your message deserves. Or perhaps, I’ve read your message and stored it in my “to-respond list” for later.
Just don’t lose your cool if someone hasn’t responded to you immediately. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
2. Ask before you screen grab and share
Nowadays, even Whatsapp conversations have become a thing to share on our social media pages. Whatever the reason and intent behind sharing it, do know that it’s a conversation that the other person deems as private or for only those who are in the group conversation. Please do check with your friends first for their consent, before you upload anything.
It’s like if you were to record a phone conversation and upload it online without informing the other person. Just because it’s in a text format, doesn’t make it any less private. I personally don’t like my conversations being shared, so it’s best to always ask first.
3. Ask before you add another contact into a Group
No matter what context – work or personal – it’s always good to give your Group some heads-up. For example, if it’s work-related, a simple “Hi, I’m going to add (name) into this group chat. She’s the (your reason) project assistant and needs to know what’s going on.” At least then we’re not left wondering the necessity of this new number in the Group and we’ll all be on the same page.
If it’s a personal chat with a group of friends, just throw it in there and say “Remember (name), would it be cool if I added them into this group?”.
We all have various reasons for a group chat, and in each conversation different levels of intimacy and details are shared. Just be sure to respect that.
4. Do not spam your contacts
I’m pretty sure we’re all in a few Group conversations, some with a few of the same members. Just imagine what happens when you copy and paste “viral” messages in ALL the group conversations. We receive it 4-5 times over. Please, please, don’t do this.
If I wanted to sign-up for a newsletter/viral subscription, I wouldn’t do it via Whatsapp. Most of the time, I don’t have the patience to read through the entire message so I just ignore it anyway. Use other platforms like Facebook to get your message across. Re-direct people to your Facebook page if you have to, a simple message like “Hey guys, I need your help. Please head to my Facebook page for the whole story” would work so much better.
5. Verify before you share
These days people are so quick to believe every single message thread they receive on Whatsapp. If someone were to spread the message “pigs are flying in Langkawi, spotted this morning at 6am” with a photoshopped image of a flying pig – well, people would just go crazy.
It’s so important to verify whatever message you are about to spread. Don’t be part of the vicious cycle that continues to spread false information. Stop for a second, do a quick verification on Google or via your friends, and if it turns out to be beneficial and useful information – share by all means.
We all have a duty to be responsible with the information we choose to share.
6. Stick to the purpose of the Group chat
If you’re in a group about work and the main purpose is to update all colleagues about your WIP, then please do not start spreading funny videos, links to cute cat videos, and random viral messages.
Whenever a new message is received, older messages get pushed to the top. Imagine how frustrating it is for someone who needs to catch up on messages, and she/he has to scroll through all this irrelevant stuff before she/he finds what she/he needs to.
Or if you’re in a chat about a sensitive topic; don’t be insensitive and start to send marketing material or promotional sales information on your own business.
7. It’s okay to leave a Group chat, just politely excuse yourself
I’ve had many conversations with friends and we’ve always moaned about how we’re part of a Group conversation that we hate and we want to get out of but we don’t want to be rude and burn bridges. So what do we do instead? We mute the Group conversation and refuse to take part in it.
Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s perfectly okay to be upfront and honest. “Hi, I’m going to leave this chat as (your reason) I need to reduce the number of messages I receive from Group conversations. It’s clogging up my feed.”
If the Group chat is NOT doing you any favours, leave. It’s best to do a spring clean every now and then because some friends just add you into random group chats without you really even knowing why.
8. Don’t have conversations with one person in a Group
It’s called a Group for a reason. Last thing you want to do is have a singular conversation with one person in that Group. If that’s what you’re doing, take it outside the Group and do a 1-to-1 chat. No biggie!
Do you have any other Do’s and Don’ts to share with us?