Rule of communication

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I want to take a brief pause in my “styles” series to share some thought on how/when I choose to communicate. I'd love to hear your own thoughts in the comments! I'm calling this a “rule,” in that it helps to order my electronic communication life.

Phone Calls

I am well-known for my general aversion to voice calls. I feel as though I am intruding on another's time. Probably because I find them intrusive myself. I have several friends I will talk with at length on the phone, but for “just sharing a line of data” moments phone calls get in the way.

Having said that, I have many people with whom I minister who use the phone their method of choice, and I accede to their style in order to stay in touch – but I have a rule for doing so.

  • Unless it is an emergency I never call a number before 10 AM, and never after 8 PM. People need time to be by themselves. Most people I call at a home number are seniors, and I find those hours work best for them.
  • When calling a cell phone, I try to be aware of when people might be on the road.
  • I never call any number between 5:30 an 7:00 because I want people to be able to enjoy a meal without interruption.


Texting is interesting because it is not as intrusive as a voice call, but also implies a sense of immediacy. I try to keep both these aspect in mind when communicating this way.

  • I don't text before 9 AM unless I'm set to meet someone and I'm letting them know my location. Before this time people are often settling in to work or preparing for the day, so I let them do so.
  • I don't text after 9 PM unless it's a “shared” experience. I'll text about a Phillies game with a friend, or about a show I know someone else is watching. I won't just text, “Hey, what's up?”

Instant Message

Instant Messaging is still a way I enjoy communicating. The rule is simple.

  • If someone's status is green, I can strike up a conversation regardless of time. If the person responds or doesn't respond is entirely up to them.
  • I'm someone's status is yellow, which means idle, I have no problem leaving a message.
  • If the person's status is red, I won't start a conversation unless they have an away status which show they are not occupied with work. An “in a meeting” means I won't strike up a conversation in any circumstance. If the status is, “I'm at lunch” have no problem leaving a message. If there is no specific status given, I don't send a message.

Social Networks

Social networks are simple.

  • Anything but instant messaging is “anything, any time.”
  • Instant messaging is something I will only initiate with a friend I actually know, and then keep the conversations brief.


Email is the most simple of all.

  • Unless I know the person is on vacation, I'll write a message any time.