There are over one hundred thousand words in the Oxford English dictionary – and, sometimes, people decide to use one of the 26 letters in the alphabet to reply to your messages.
Nevertheless, receiving a simple „k“ as a reply could be packed with more information and meaning that you could possibly guess. Because of that, it’s important to understand how and when to reply to that message.
The best response to “k“ depends on your goals and where the conversation was going. If it was meant as a concluding statement, it’s best not to answer. If the topic was controversial, it’s better to shift the focus to another topic.
How to respond to „k“?
If you want to keep the conversation going
The very first thing you have to do when someone replies to you with „k“ is whether you want to keep the conversation going or drop it then and there.
Keep in mind short messages (and it doesn’t get any shorter than a one-letter response) tend to be a way for people to say they don’t want to talk any further.
Now, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk anymore.
It could mean they don’t want to talk about the subject at hand. If you feel that’s the case, shift to another topic.
Doing so is simple. For example, you can try to say:
“Well, anyway, today I heard about…”
and move on to something else.
If you want to finish the conversation
On the other hand, you might feel like the conversation is approaching its end.
If that’s the case, you have two choices: you either drop it and walk away or end it yourself to avoid any ambivalence (in other words, so there’s no doubt the chat is over and you’re moving on with your day).
For example, you can try writing:
“Alright, talk to you later”
…or using a thumbs-up emoji.
You have to balance a way of giving closure and being polite at the same time. Keep it simple when you do so.
As you know, the alternative is to say nothing at all. Depending on where the conversation was a few moments ago (or where it was heading towards since it started), saying nothing could work as well.
Keep in mind this option works for informal scenarios or brief conversations. For long conversations, it’s always better to provide closure yourself, just in case.
If you want to understand if you did something wrong
A third scenario is an abrupt end to a conversation that was flowing smoothly.
If you feel the conversation was doing great, and suddenly you receive a „k“, then you might be left wondering what happened.
And something like that is not unheard of – because it happens to everyone. How should you move forward when you receive a „k“ out of nowhere? You can either try to figure out what went wrong on your own or ask what happened.
Sometimes, it’s better to leave things be for a while.
Wait for a couple of days, have another casual conversation, and if things are doing great, ask:
“The other day we were talking and suddenly the conversation ended, did something happen?”
If you sensed you could’ve sounded (or that the other person perceived you as) disrespectful, it’s better to ask what happened. For example, you say:
“When I said (something), did I offend you in any way?”
If that’s the case, you’ll have to apologize.
Should you respond to „k“?
A break isn’t a bad thing
Before you try to reply to a „k“ message, you’ll have to figure out if giving a response is worth the trouble. Or, better said, if you’re going to get the response you’re after by doing so.
What does this mean?
Well, simply put, receiving „k“ as a response when you want to keep the conversation going hurts – but getting two „k“ responses in a row feels even worse.
So, should you respond? Or, perhaps, should you wait for a couple of days before you double down? That depends entirely on your perception of the conversation.
If you’re after something specific, doubling down right then and there could mean the difference between getting what you want and the other person forgetting about it right after.
Then again, if you’re having a friendly chat, doubling down could seem both rude and disrespectful.
Enough is enough
On the one hand, you might think responding to „k“ is the right move; on the other hand, you might feel like enough is enough, and you should move on.
Well, moving on isn’t disrespectful at all! In fact, doing so could be a polite thing to do for many reasons.
You don’t know what the other person is doing. They might not have enough time to chat with you right now – and replying with „k“ is the best thing they can do at that moment.
Of course, you’ll have to remember you’re the only one who truly knows what’s going on in that conversation. So, it’s up to you to make that decision.
Rest assured, moving on is a polite strategy you should consider.
When should you respond to „k“?
If the conversation hasn’t run its course
Whether the conversation has run its course or not is fundamental to figuring out what to do after receiving „k“ as a response to something you said.
Sometimes, „k“ works as a way of closure. It’s the same as saying, “I’ve got it” or “Understood”. Adding anything else after that is nothing if not counterproductive.
That’s not always the case, though. You may think there’s something else to discuss.
If that’s the case, swiftly move the conversation towards that subject – but try to avoid the previous one you were discussing because that one is clearly over.
For example, simply stating…
“Alright, have I told you about…”
“Anyway, let’s talk about…”
…it’s a quick and easy way to keep the conversation going without having to force it.
If the time is right
Something that you have to think about is the time. Ask yourself, “is the time right for this conversation?”
You might be wondering what time has to do with anything here. Well, if you wake up at 6 a.m. tomorrow, you wouldn’t want to do anything other than sleep at midnight. It’s that simple.
Maybe you can keep talking – but you may have to do it tomorrow.
You might be full of energy, but maybe that other person feels like closing its eyes instead of talking.
In fact, when you’re too tired, it’s hard to think – and you might only come up with one-letter responses such as „k“.
If the tone of the conversation hasn’t changed
Now, even though you might believe the conversation still has some juice left and the time is perfect to have a chat, something might’ve happened.
If you pay attention, there are little things that happen in a friendly (or professional) chat that could change the dynamic of the conversation.
For example, a bad joke or the wrong comment might kill the mood – and you eventually end up seeing a „k“ on your screen.
If that happened, you could let it go and wait for a couple of days before you decide to interact with that person again.
Or, you can try to save face and apologize. For example, you can say:
“That was a little too much. My bad.”
Recognizing you were wrong is key to bring the conversation back to life.
Make sure you understand why you received this short message
If you or someone else did something that promptly ended the conversation you were having, you need to try to figure out what truly happened.
Doing so is not to play a blame game where you point fingers – but, instead, is a way to understand the dynamics of a conversation and try to improve your knowledge of how that social aspect works.
Perhaps, you were rude. Or, perhaps, someone else was.
Trying to figure out what truly happened will help you understand and allow you to improve socially.
Knowing why that happened is also a great way to know what to say. We have covered that above.
Try to understand that sometimes it’s not about you
As a final thought, you need to keep in mind that, even though there are two parties in a conversation, other external forces may come into play.
A sudden emergency, a work-related issue, having to go out on a drive, and many other scenarios could be the reason why you received a „k“. And all of them are outside your control.
Now, sure, most of the time that „k“ didn’t come out of anywhere – but maybe it did.
And if that’s what happened, there’s nothing that you can do but understand that something happened and move on.
Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is the polite thing to do.