Why Do People Answer Their Text Message But Not Their Phone?

Why Do People Answer Their Text Message But Not Their Phone?

Text Message – In this blog, podcast, and video Brad Smith shares his tips about why the majority of people will answer their text message rather than answering a phone call.

Q&A of the day: “Why do people answer their text message but not their phone?”

There are many reasons why text messages are easier to answer than phone calls:

  • Phone calls are a bigger time commitment. Whenever I take a phone call, I know that it’s going to distract me for several minutes. This is because most people feel obligated to chat. But I’m not always in a position where I’m willing to give up that amount of time. Texting is usually more efficient – and as such, it requires less commitment.
  • It is not always appropriate to take a call. If you want something while I’m at the library, I’m not going to answer your call. But if it’s a text message, no problem. I can respond without disturbing anybody.
  • Phone calls require the uninterrupted use of my hand. If you want something while I’m working with my hands, a phone call would really hinder my ability to complete my tasks. I’m probably not going to take your call until all of my tasks are complete. But if you send a text message, it’s pretty likely that there will be some brief moments in between tasks where I can quickly peek at it.
  • Phone calls require my full attention. If you want something while I’m deep in thought, driving, cooking, or doing anything else that requires my full and sustained attention, I’m probably not going to answer your call. But if you send a text message, it’s pretty likely that there will be some brief moments where I can quickly peek at it (red lights, bathroom breaks, etc).

Plus, aside from all of those logical reasons, there are some emotional ones too:

  • Phone calls can be intimidating. Phone calls put people on the spot. If I know that an unpleasant call is coming, I might be tempted to ignore it. I’m going to be much more comfortable with a text message, where I have a few minutes to think about my response.
  • Phone calls are annoying. Whenever I get a phone call, it feels like someone is barging in on my life. What could possibly be so important that you feel the need to interrupt me? It’s like when somebody shows up at your house unexpectedly. Maybe you were in the middle of something important. Maybe you’re not ready to discuss whatever topic right then. It’s just annoying.

Whenever possible, I always prefer that people send me a text message.

Many people today view an unexpected phone call as the 21st century equivalent of knocking on their front door unexpectedly and expecting you to invite them in to chat.

Send a text if the issue can be answered with a text.

Reply to a text with a text if it can be answered in a text.

If you call and they don’t pick up, it is probably seen as an intrusion (they’re tired, driving, sleeping, engaged in an amorous activity, etc.)

Don’t leave a voicemail if all you want is a callback.  The callee will see you in her missed calls list and call back if she wants to.

If I want to talk to one of my children I send a text that contains only my phone number. They can click or tap on it in the text to initiate a call when they have the time and attention to talk.

Most incoming phone calls I assume will fall into one of these categories:

  • Want me to do something (“meet us at the bar”)
  • Just want to talk (parents, wife)

The reason I wouldn’t answer, respectively:

  • Don’t want the pressure of having to decide during the phone conversation (peer pressure)
  • Would feel ruder to answer and try to explain why I don’t want to talk right now (busy, not in the mood)

But with a text, I can take as much time as I need to respond. I’m an introvert, which might make this all make more sense to you, so the interaction takes more energy and possibly stress.


The growing industry of telemarketers is increasing the traffic of telecommunication lines in this generation where every individual has at least one mobile phone at hand.

By choosing text messages over phone calls, I’ll be able to filter out unwanted calls from outbound call center agents who will only relentlessly offer goods and services.


Callers with legitimate reasons will leave a voice message in regards to the purpose of their calls and may request for a callback, which by that time, I’ll be available to do so.

It is important to remember that not everyone is available to receive calls 24/7. Some people, due to the nature of their work, do not encourage receiving phone calls in the middle of the day.


Everyone is getting more and more occupied with personal and business commitments.

A phone call, unless an emergency, is the last interruption wanted in most situations especially when the person is in the middle of a business deal, a job interview or in a high-security situation.

Mental Preparation

A text message sent by the sender can mentally prepare the receiver regarding the topic of discussion.

Most people are multi-tasking most of the time and it is very unsatisfying and unproductive to communicate back the wrong information to the sender when the feedback has not been well thought of.


It’s easier to trace back conversation through text messages. A person might forget the most important information in a phone call whereas, in text messaging, all information has been conveniently recorded by both parties.

The Text Message Takeaway:

Why Do People Answer Their Text Message But Not Their Phone?

When you text someone you spend a few seconds, send the text and do other stuff while on a call you are almost engaged and can’t concentrate on other things.

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