Friday, February 18, 2011

The Delicate Etiquette of Chat - 10 Tips for Instant Messaging


So let's assume that your profile pic rocked, your about me section was all that and you've waded through the chaff to find someone worthy of a chat. Before you just dive in with a "Hi there!" - let's take a moment and review some basic rules for giving good chat.

1. Have a plan - you either want to flirt, get to know someone, just spend a little time or a combination of the above. But have an idea of how you want the conversation to go or what you want to get out of it before you start. There's noting worse than sitting in a chat staring at the blinking cursor. Hello? Hello? Is there any intelligent life on this planet?

2. NO SHOUTING - There's no reason for ALL CAPS. It's jarring and appears as though you are screaming your conversation. For that matter, stop with the crazy fonts and background images. Having falling leaves and rainbows as your chat environment and sparkly fuschia letters in 18 point text is cute for your pre-teen daughter. You're supposed to be a grown up. Stop it.

3. No machine gunning - It's the rapid fire statements, one after another before the other person has a chance to respond. 
Them: I like wine.
Them: Do you drink wine?
Them: Cheese is great too.
Them: We should go to a wine bar.
Them: Don't want you to think I'm a lush.
Them: But wine is great. With chocolate too.
Them: I think chocolate is a food group.
Them: I could never be in a relationship with someone who didn't like chocolate.
Them: Why aren't you answering?

You: Um... give me a second to get a word in?
4. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) - Especially that first chat. Don't try to do too much. The purpose of chatting should be developing a comfort level to move to a phone conversation or an in face meeting. You need to be charming, not smarmy. Open, not thirsty. Do not lead off with discussions about exes, whether size matters or politics. Take it slow.

5. Read once and then again - It's not as easy to pull context from a few lines of a stranger's text as it is from hearing a voice. So when you read a comment, stop and read it twice. And don't jump to conclusions. Feel free to use the phrase, "Can you tell me more?" or "That's interesting, what do you mean by that?" Trust me. One time I bit a guy's head off because I thought he was calling me a tramp. Turned out he was talking about the song, "The Lady is A Tramp" to illustrate his love of jazz. AWKWARD

6. Smileys are your friend - And since things can be misinterpreted and not everyone gets your sense of humor right away, it's okay to throw in a LOL and a :-)... just not every :-/ other O__o word!

7. Be proactive - Don't sit and wait to be dazzled. You are both auditioning. Have one or two things you want to discuss and get to it. The blinking cursor is the kiss of death. Get to the point where (like a job interview) you have a killer icebreaker that cuts the tension and gets the ball rolling. It's just another weapon in the arsenal. Acquire it. Master it. Use it.

8. Watch the tone - The line between flirty and freaky is thin, know which side of it both of you want to be on and stay there unless invited across. The line between snarky and bitter cynicism is razor thin as well. I remember telling one dude, "Pardon me, your inner bitter black dude is showing." He logged off. Buh-bye now.

9. Proofread - Again.... spell check is your friend. Most of these programs will underline your misspelled words so unless you are like me and make up shiggity words from time to time, pay attention to what the built in editor is telling you. And double check what you type, as you type. You have no idea how much drama can pop off because you typed bare instead of bear

10. Have an Exit Strategy - Your phone is ringing, you have somewhere else to be, it's time for sleep... have SOME way of cutting off the conversation. Some people will chat the night away (talking about absolutely nothing) until you nip it in the bud. And if you decide you'd like to chat again, set up a time to do that before logging out. However, if you are too through with the conversation and someone isn't taking the hint - feel free to eject yourself without a backward glance. This is just a chat, no one has taken any vows.

And a bonus tip - Know your IM software. Once you have cut someone off, is there a way to keep them from seeing you? Stealth or Incognito mode is your friend. IM is a cyberstalker's playground, do you know how to block and report "inappropriate" behavior? I have dropped dime on many a flagrant line-stepper in my past and would do so again in a heartbeat. Life is too short, my friends. 

BougieLand, what say you to my list? Did I miss one? Do you have some helpful chat tips to share with the group? Is there a "line" you use that always breaks the ice? Do share...

43 comments:

Natasha Hunter said...

This has been a hilarious week! :) I've been too busy to comment on some of the posts like I wanted to, but yeah, great week!

My #1 rule is be yourself, it's hard to keep up an image that isn't you, and when your exposed it's harder to bounce back from vs everyone knowing who they're dealing with up front. If I mention I like Common and you're more Bone Thugs, just be straight up about it-chances are I'll have that CD too or if not, you might be teaching me something new (which gains MAJOR points)!

Happy Friday Bougieland!

William Martin said...

"Have an Exit Strategy" - This. Right. Here.
I would tell you my "icebreaker" but then everyone would know it. Secret sauce cannot be shared.

Jason P said...

Say something interesting! I hate that "So tell me more about you" "What do you want to know" "What do you want to tell me" I'm done.

Liselle said...

That "machine gun" conversation is hilarious

Javalicious said...

My helpful chat tip - get off the chat and pick up the phone! I need to hear the voice. I need to hear inflection and tone and whether a person chops off words and says things like "learnt" and "loveded"

Deb B said...

And again, not too much text speak!
I wnt 2 get 2 kno U btr.
WHAT?

MeetCharlieL said...

Great rule #1 - I am baffled by people who have several different personalities. Pick one!

MeetCharlieL said...

LOL - I see you

MeetCharlieL said...

How about asking before you start sending "those pics" when did it become cool to flash strangers? Hold on mama, hold on to a little mystery.

Jubilance said...

I really hate when someone new IM's you via the site's IM feature before you've had any type of message exchange. Can I see if I even want to chat with you before you just ambush me please?

Andrea M said...

Know your IM software Yes. This means if you are not sure what you are doing, don't have two or three IM windows open at once. You will start typing the wrong conversation into the wrong screen. It's the equivalent of double booking a date. No bueno.

Cassie said...

We really need an ENTIRE post on uninvited sexting. Keep it in your pants, please! Nobody is trying to see all that at 10:00am!

Cassie said...

"You have no idea how much drama can pop off because you typed bare instead of bear."
I smell a BougieTale.

SBChitownChick said...

The whole week has been great. As a matter of fact, you've been hot like first in 2011 Miss Lady!

OneChele said...

Like the profile sounds like one person, the picture gives off another vibe and then you get on the chat and it's womp, womp, womp. Such a let down!

OneChele said...

*snickers* You are not required to give out the trade secrets.

OneChele said...

"Loveded" is one of pet peeves. "Thunk", "Axed" instead of asked. Along with people who an extra syllable in words.
Ma-she-ell.
No sir. It's Mi-shell. NOT. THAT. HARD.

Violet Rose said...

Agree! Give me a second. Let me at least peek at your profile!

OneChele said...

I have tried to "multi-chat" - I finally just have to shut the extras down. Life is too short for that level of schizophrenia.

OneChele said...

Ha! Your nose is correct.

OneChele said...

*curtsies* Thank you!

Violet Rose said...

And the "R" in places it's not supposed to go - the "ursher" board, the clothes in the "warsh" room. LOL

J B said...

In defense of linguistics and ebonics, the word ASK used to be pronounced aks. About 150 years ago. English is a funny thing.

CaliGirlED said...

"What yo name is?"

Just_A_Thought1218 said...

~~~> "it's womp womp womp"

LOL I'm out, laughing and hearing the sound effects in my head.

CaliGirlED said...

Not a chatter so all I could do was laugh at the reason why your tips were necessary. Great week Chele, many laughs!!!

AndreaPlaid said...

I remember there was a huge Twitter discussion about "conversate," too. People were whipping out Websters and Oxfords and their mommas trying to prove that "conversate" was an actual factual word.

As me and my online chatters, we will ask to converse, not aks to conversate. Anything else, and I'm giving them the phone number to Read For Literacy.;-)

Penny said...

Please put that in the category of "Conversate is NOT a word." Chele, I know I shouted, so excuse me-but I just find use of this term in any context to be a major fail.

OneChele said...

And "orientated" ... there's NO such thing. You attend orientation to get oriented. Or you visit the Orient and eat Oriental food. That's it. No mas.

AndreaPlaid said...

"Orientated"?!? I can't, Chele. I just can't.

Leon X said...

For those who still rock with Instant Messaging I recommend either Pidgin or Digsby. Both are good multi-platform clients.

AndreaPlaid said...

CaliGirlEd, please say this isn't so...please say someone didn't say or type this...please?

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

The last guy I met and spoke with on-line was trying to get me to have cyber sex with him within the first 2 minutes of our initial conversation. *side eye* I blocked him, but I later found out that he'd troll sites and blogs looking for his 'black girl experience'.

CaliGirlED said...

You have never heard this before?!! It's more like "whacho nam ih?" LOL

Natasha Hunter said...

Exactly... Like if you claim to love Common and have all his cd's and during chat I type something like 'You accused me, let me testify" and you just let that ride... I'm looking at you sideways because obviously.... you haven't told the truth. From there on out everything you say is tainted, and I don't want to enter into any relationship Sherlock Holmes-ing it to death.

Natasha Hunter said...

Agreed.

Natasha Hunter said...

"Nobody is trying to see all that at 10:00am!"

As a person who has indulged in long distance relationships, I will add "...yet" to your comment.

GrownAzzMan said...

Let me axe you this, are you light skinneded?

GrownAzzMan said...

So all those profiles women write about being family orientated should be stricken from the record? Just axin....LOL

GrownAzzMan said...

Speak for CharlieL. Some of us don't mind a woman getting her inner exhibitionist on...LOL

AndreaPlaid said...

I'd say that I should get out more...but not for that. :-D

AndreaPlaid said...

See, that right there? I'm done-ereated wi' chu. Done-er-rated.:-D

Lapamelacalif said...

Great tips and reminders for me, since I am traveling the single lane of life once more. Thank you.

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