Ditch the “Considerate Text” Templates: 3 ways to respond that won’t make you sound like a sociopath - The Indigo Project
3 ways to respond that won’t make you sound like a sociopath

Ditch the “Considerate Text” Templates

There have been some text templates doing the cyber-rounds recently that aim to considerately manage expectations when it comes to avoiding emotional burnout or sharing sensitive information.

There have been some text templates doing the cyber rounds recently that aim to considerately manage expectations when it comes to avoiding emotional burnout or sharing sensitive information.

The template trend began with a tweet from @fyeahmfabello that shared a text she received from a friend.

Later in the thread, the Twitter user offered an example of how you can respond to someone if you don’t have the space to support them, with the following text template.

The trend continued with Twitter user @YanaBirt tweeting, “I just want to say, a lot of y’all dump information on your friends at the wrong time without their consent. If you know it’s something that could hurt them, ask permission before you decide to be messy. Please,” which was followed by a text template that could be used in such a context.

Now, while these templates undoubtedly come from a good place – after all, it’s important to look out for your own emotional wellbeing and that of others – the cold and disconnected tone of these “considerate text” templates really miss the mark when it comes to connecting honestly and compassionately with another human being. Not to mention that being a friend to someone shouldn’t be interpreted as an emotional burden that needs to be managed.

It’s true that friendship can be hard at times, and communication is certainly tricky – particularly the type that occurs via the virtual maelstrom we call text messaging. So we’ve decided to provide a few of our own tips that might be preferable in certain situations when you need to share or voice something that might be challenging…

1. When you’re: at capacity / helping someone else who’s in crisis / dealing with some personal stuff right now and someone asks for help.

Sometimes we all need a little help – and if you’re “at capacity / helping someone else who’s in crisis / dealing with some personal stuff” it sounds as if you could do with a little help too. When you’re not looking after yourself and in the stages of burnout, you’re not really going to have the emotional strength to support others – so if it’s important for you to be there for those you love, it’s extremely important to do your best staying on top of your self-care practices (which of course can get boring/inconvenient at times). Give yourself some extra lovin’, some enriching time alone perhaps, or time spent with the sort of people who revive and recharge you.

While it’s important to take care of yourself and acknowledge your own needs and limitations, it’s also important to extend compassion and kindness to those who need it.

We are also nourished and enriched by the people close to us – and unfortunately (so goes life) things won’t always be birthday parties and boozy brunches. Sometimes friends will be struggling, and as a good mate, you want to try and be there for them, in the good and bad times. Also, don’t forget that relationships are a two-way street. It’s helpful to understand if you’re the only one giving, giving, giving all the time. In which case, there is an imbalance that might need to be addressed.

Perhaps a more human response might be…

“That sounds really shitty for you and I’m sorry you’re having to go through it. I’m so glad you got in touch – things are pretty full on for me at the moment too, so I might need some time to work through my stuff. But it would actually be great to catch up and have a chat. I’m available [suggest a time] if you want to call me then? Otherwise we can meet up over coffee?”

2. When you need to share information that may be hurtful to someone.

First thing to ask yourself is what is the purpose of sharing this information? Is this information true, necessary, or helpful? If not, then perhaps it’s something that doesn’t need to be shared in the first place. If you deem it essential that this hurtful information be shared, perhaps you can wait to share it face to face. While sending it via text might be quicker and more convenient, it also removes any of the nuance and non-verbal cues that might be useful when dealing with sensitive topics. It also absolves you of any discomfort regarding the vulnerability of face-to-face interaction.

Guess what? Sometimes we’re going to be faced with shitty conversations that need to happen. Why not get brave and get used to having them in person? Otherwise you might end up in the Phil Collins category of dick moves where you think it’s ok to ask your wife for a divorce via fax machine. (Not cool, Phil.)

How about something like this…

“How have you been, really? It’s been a bit, maybe we can catch up for coffee this week sometime. When are you free?”

3. When you have to set boundaries that might shock/offend someone.

There’s been a lot of talk about boundaries recently, and lots of suggestions regarding how to voice them. Boundaries are essential to help you maintain your sense of self-worth and self-respect, but when they’re newly enforced they can sometimes take people by surprise and even make people upset. Firstly, you need to understand that setting new boundaries are hard and if people get upset or hurt about them, then that’s their shit to deal with. Considering what you’re asking for is reasonable, and you’re setting boundaries with someone who genuinely ~likes you ~ (and not just “likes you” when they can treat you like trash) then it might come as a mild shock to their ego but if they respect you then they’ll soon respect it.

The best way to communicate a new boundary is in terms of how it will affect you in the future…

“I know you might not mean to, but it actually makes me feel really crappy when you make those sorts of comments about my work/friends/weight/family. It’s a part of my life that I’m dealing with in my own way, and as much as I appreciate your opinion, I’d feel much more supported if you didn’t talk shit about this.

It might seem a bit over-sensitive, but I’m trying to learn how to deal with my stuff better and it would really help if you could be with me on this. x”

Communication can be a minefield. Fortunately, our latest online course, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER has a whole session dedicated to communication, boundaries and relationships. Try the first session free now right here!

TANAMI SONTER
Psychologist

AYANTHI DE SILVA
Psychologist

ANNEKE REIJMERINK
Clinical Psychologist

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