Follow these simple rules to navigate any digital conversation
By Tyler Daswick

As the Men’s Health texting expert, I’ve been solidified as one of the most influential and authoritative voices in the country on all things IM, DM, and ZM (look it up). So on behalf of Men’s Health, I feel it appropriate to lay down some ground rules that everyone can follow when it comes to texting a person you’re interested in. This is a surefire way to lock down that next date, that next happy hour, or that next promotion.

Texting Rule #1: The Rule of Three
Did you know that in a recent study by the Serial Killer Research Council, it was found that American serial killers send an average of 4.6 texts in a row without a response? That’s a crazy stat. When you text, a single follow-up is fine, but any more violates the Rule of Three, and that’s a massive turn-off. This is science.

Related: The Best First Message to Send On a Dating Site

Texting Rule #2: The Links and Pics Relevancy Score
In 2005, sociologists came up with a concept called the “Texting Relevancy Score,” where they determine a multimedia text’s value based on its relevancy to the conversation. They found that some things have a higher inherent Relevancy Score than others. Placing in the top three: slam-dunk montage videos, monkeys in people clothes, and over-sized pieces of pizza. No matter what, no matter the situation or the context or the sender or the receiver, those sorts of pictures have maximum relevancy, which means they’ll always be a positive contribution to your text exchange.

Texting Rule #3: Virtual Listening
“This is what men want, I thought to myself. Just someone to sit and listen and say ‘Mm hmmm’ occasionally.” ‘Mm hmm’ is a terrible way to tell someone you’re paying attention. When you text, you don’t have the luxury of affirming your companion with smiles and nods, so you have to use more explicit strategies. ‘Mm hmm’ should not be your strategy, because ‘mm hmm’ is what you say when you’re really trying to blow someone off, and everyone knows it. Rocket scientists with the McQuincey Foundation for Super Smart People did a study where they looked at thousands of text responses, and the results showed that ‘woah,’ ‘no kidding,’ and ‘holy s*** brah you serious’ all scored way higher in terms of engagement than ‘mm hmm.’ The lesson: If you’re going to pretend to listen, pretend better.

Originally published on menshealth.com