Tiny Cries for Help — How to Know If the Person You’re Messaging With Is Sad?

By Team Ixy at Actual

Most people find that mobile messaging can feel like social tightrope-walking:

  • We say one thing, and it is taken for another
  • We make a joke, and it offends
  • We keep “talking”, not noticing the other person has something important to say
  • We don’t see what the other person was going to send us before we just kept typing…

At Actual, we’ve had many conversations with you around how to make messaging a better experience. One of the things that continues to come up is how we all want to be better at noticing if our “chat partner” is feeling uncomfortable or is sad.

We all want to be good friends and good listeners — someone others can open up to. It seems like the main problem in mobile messaging is that we all need to improve at picking up emotional cues!

So we decided to share a few insights around how to do it just a little bit better (and make a huge difference in your relationships).

1) Own up to your mood

Much of the emotional exchange in messaging happens “between the lines”. We signal more complicated things like uncertainty or sarcasm with emojis, gaps, omissions.

As humans instinctively react to the emotions of another human, getting those emotions right can be crucial.

One of the great ways to help your messaging partner communicate more clearly and openly is if you yourself are… acting more clearly and openly. If you give clear mood indicators — even if it’s just that you’re annoyed or tired — your partner will feel more confident to open up to you or decide to chat another time even.

It’s like transparency goes both ways…

2) Ask

It’s so simple that we often forget about it! A great way to find out how someone is doing is by… asking them. This step has two benefits: on the one hand you will actually find out how your messaging partner is feeling, and they will also feel taken care of because you cared to ask.

As a matter of fact, your kind asking might just make them feel better right away!

3) Watch out for those gaps

When people are enthusiastic and on the same wavelength as you, messaging tends to flow without significant gaps. If someone needs to interrupt the flow, they will usually say so: send a “brb”, tell you when they’ll be back...

We kind of instinctively know that gaps in the messaging can be a bad sign — that’s why we can get so sensitive when someone doesn’t respond, even if it’s for some innocent reason, like a delivery came or their boss showed up.

This is for two reasons:

  • When we’re suddenly feeling uncomfortable, uncertain or hurt, we’re likely to wait a little bit, try to figure out what to say, read the previous messages again to make sure
  • We can also use gaps tactically — not having facial expressions at our avail in messaging, dynamic signals like slowing down can be a form of us communicating we’re not happy

We’re not saying you should overreact everytime there is a gap, as the chances are good it’s for some unrelated reason, but if the convo was tense to begin with, your hunch may be right. It never hurts to ask your partner what they’re thinking about, or just tell them how you’re feeling!

4) Apologize

Here’s thething: when you feel that the friend, family member or romantic interest on the other end of the messaging channel is being unhappy, it has far better benefits to apologize even if it turns out they’re not upset about you.

Imagine the other scenario: they are upset about you and you don’t say sorry and there for them!

So our tip is to always express and confirm your good intentions — in either case, it will be welcome!

5) Arrange for IRL

At Actual, we like to say that it’s super easy to get into a fight during messaging and nearly impossible to get out of it during messaging.

So if you ever feel tension building up beyond repair, and you don’t want to risk losing this person from your life… ask them out. Call them. Show them you care.

A cake and a glass of wine go a long way…

Actual (by Ixy) is an AI-assisted messaging app for happier relationships.

Sign up to try soon at actual.chat.

Follow us on Twitter at @IxyHelps.