A lot of people I interact with don’t understand why I don’t respond to them immediately. I’ll explain. If any of this offends you, send me an email. If you don’t have my email address, ask for it (outside of public forums, such as this post).

My communication systems are not toys to me, and I won’t allow them to be toys for others. Communication, to be communication, is supposed to have meaning and value.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous.

You need to understand the key difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication.

Synchronous is agreed upon. We agree to talk at a time, a place or through a medium. In other words, we don’t interrupt each other.

Asynchronous is not agreed upon. It’s historically used to deal with things quickly. When I call someone, I announce myself and ask them if they have a moment. They may not. Give them that option. Increasingly, people simply don’t answer – and the etiquette for that is if it’s important, leave a message.

If you don’t leave a message, it’s simply not important enough to you, and if it’s not important enough to you, it’s not important enough to me.

Small talk is not my thing when it comes to asynchronous messaging. Want to have small talk conversations? Go synchronous, or use email, which allows me to respond in my own time. Too short for an email? Then maybe it’s not that important.

The Phone.

My phone is set up with a loud ringtone to assure I don’t miss important messages. It interrupts me. I don’t like being interrupted, be it writing, be it programming, be it thinking. In short, if someone uses my phone to annoy me, I mute them so they can’t.

Abuse it with too many short messages right after each other, and you get put on silent. This is for any sort of asynchronous communication. When my phone annoys me with a loud sound, it’s supposed to be important. If you’ve ever heard of the boy who cried wolf, I’ll introduce you to the people who abuse my time.

Once you get to silent you’re on my timetable, whether you want to say ‘Hi’ or your house is burning down with you in it. Besides, you would be better off calling the fire department, wouldn’t you?


Your best bet every single time. Not only does it allow for lengthy, thoughtful responses, it also forces people to think a bit more before sending the message.

I hate messages where people do not think.