When I Will Get Back to You … If You Email, Text, Phone …

text-messageCheck out this article posted on Business Insider “When to Email, Text, or Call.”  I think it outlines some pretty good expectations regarding our expectations surrounding immediacy in communication. HAT TIP to Mary-Lynn Morrison for sharing the article and for her comment to me about it being important to let people know what kinds of expectations we have around our communication.

We have so many ways of communicating “instantly” … it makes me wonder what kind of response times do we expect? and what’s good etiquette?  and what’s good policy?  So, I have a few things to share about the way I tend to handle communications.

  1. Being face to face with someone always takes precedence over electronic communication.  There are some exceptions: if I am waiting on a call back from the doctor, for instance, or a family member is sending urgent news.  But, in those cases, I will try to inform the person or group with whom I am face to face that I am expecting a call or message.
  2. I won’t text or email or IM while I am driving.  I will, however, answer a telephone call while I’m on the road because I have an integrated bluetooth devise.
  3. Voicemails left on my land lines may go unnoticed for weeks.  My voicemails at both office land line phones clearly state my cell phone number and how to reach me.  I may be in my “office” only once a week … so please follow up with my cell phone. Similarly, our house phone is not used a great deal … and the messages are usually phone spam.  So, we don’t check them often.
  4. I have a similar pattern with paper mail (US Mail or “Snail Mail”).  I only get to my offices once a week … for the new “relational” office in Monmouth our mail delivery could be as infrequent as twice a month.  It will be gathered daily, a staff member will go through it at least weekly, but it may not be delivered until our next staff meeting which is the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.


I have a similar response to email as the writer of the article above.  I try to wait until I can go through them and either 1) quickly respond, 2) delete or file the email (mostly when I’m copied on emails of committees, etc.) or 3) mark for a more thoughtful and lengthy response.  I attempt to check my inbox at least twice a day with this … sometimes it’s more frequently.   The emails I flag for a more lengthy response will generally require some time to think … and sleep on it.  So you can expect a response from an email within a couple of days.  If you happen to catch me at the computer when the email comes in, it may be a more immediate response, but it may not be.  If it will be more than a couple of days, I will try to respond with a comment on when you can expect a full response.


Call my mobile number.  It’s on the presbytery websites, any presbytery staff person will give it to you, and it’s posted on my Facebook profile.  I will answer, if I am available.  Leave a voicemail if I don’t answer.   If I see a “missed call” from you, I will know you called, but I will assume I don’t need to call back.  I will always get back to you if you leave a voicemail.  If I get the voicemail too late in the day, or on my day off (or vacation), I will get back to you the next day or when I’m back to work.  So, please let me know if it’s an emergency and you need me to call back ASAP.


I am attempting to text more frequently.  I find it can be a very useful tool for communicating short messages.  Particularly when I’m in a place where it’s noisy or not private (like an airplane upon arrival … even an airport or a restaurant).  I will usually respond to a text within a few hours … not during a meeting or appointment with someone face to face … but as I leave the meeting, perhaps.

Facebook Instant Message/Twitter Direct Message

More and more I find that people are communicating via Facebook and Twitter.  It’s true, it looks like I’m on all the time! I’m not really.  My computer may be online, or my phone may be checking for notifications.  The Facebook messages, in my mind are more like texts than emails.  The same for Direct Messages via Twitter.  They should be for shorter messages and I will usually get back with you in a few hours or so.

Facebook posts and/or Tweets

I may or may not see your Facebook posts; I probably will miss your Tweets.  If I do see them, I may or may not respond.  Facebook, in my mind, is a public announcement.  If you want to be sure I see something, please share it more directly with me.

Snail Mail

Typically, I’ll respond to a paper communication within 30 days.

So, is this about the way you handle the world of communication as well?  Or do you expect/do something different?

%d bloggers like this: