You get a text. Should you respond right away? Can you wait a bit? When do you cross the line into rudeness? Helloooo?

Texting is a topic that etiquette experts Elaine Swann and Diane Gottsman are asked about frequently. 

“It is efficient, it is easy and it’s timely,” Gottsman says of the popular way of communicating. “The drawback is that what is important to one person may not be as important a response to another person. Or they may not have their phone.”

Both say the appropriate response time depends on what the text is about. Time-sensitive messages should be answered as soon as possible, while you have more time for nonurgent ones. But not that long. 

Gottsman, speaking “from a polite factor” believes you should respond within a day. “That sounds like a very long time for some people but we all have busy lives.”

Swann adds in an extra day of cushion.

“After the 48-hour mark, if you really haven’t said anything at all and someone asks you a question that needs an answer, then that’s where you’re starting to get into …  rudeness or inconsideration,” she says. 

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According to experts, texts time-sensitive in nature should be answered as quickly as possible.

But even etiquette experts get bogged down. Swann shares she didn’t reply to a text received one Saturday until the following Thursday, as the message got buried in her inbox.

“That was a long time,” she admits, “but the question she asked me required quite a bit of thought and insight. So, I needed to take my time … and when I responded she greatly appreciated it because my response was thoughtful.” 

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