Last week I heard about two friends that were exchanging text messages. As the conversation was about to end, one of the friends affectionately texted: “I love you.” Now the other half of this friendship intended to text back: “I love you too.” But predictive texting is what it is… The response ended up being: “I love you fool.” A seed was planted for a major rift in that friendship, but thankfully both of them got a great laugh out of the experience.
Texting is convenient. It allows us to think through the content of a message before sending, so it can have some advantages over a verbal conversation. It is also fun to send pictures of what is occurring at the moment. And of course the person on the receiving end can respond as they have time. Those are the advantages.
Despite all of the advantages of this medium of electronic communication I have strong words for the wise. Are you ready? As a general rule, texting is a poor way to communicate when you are conflicted with the person you are texting with. Again, this is a general rule. I would add that texting is not a good idea if you are communicating about a potentially sensitive issue. Why?
- You cannot process nonverbal communication such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and the list goes on…
- You tend to communicate things in a text that you would be far less likely to verbalize in a face to face dialogue. Enough said.
- The intensity of a conflict tends to rise much quicker as texts are exchanged.
- The entire content of your text message can be misconstrued. It’s more difficult to correct such perceptions when a face to face interaction is not occurring.
It’s tempting to hide behind the relational wall that the medium of texting creates. It’s easier to express feelings via text than it is to look someone in the eye. At least that is true in many cases. Are you conflicted with someone? Do you have a sensitive topic to explore with someone you care about? Seek them face to face. Or….believe it or not you can still call that person and have a verbal conversation. That feature on your phone still works.
Communication is tricky at best. Let’s be thoughtful and choose the best way to share our thoughts and listen carefully to others. If you are not careful, you will call someone you love a fool.