Most of us will now spend more time than ever communicating with our friends and piers by way of text messaging. Even my generation (Baby Boomers) have taken to this quick and easy way of se-mi intrusive interaction. But what is the trade off? What is the cost?
How easy will it be to confuse the other party when you are busy and respond too quickly when the written word can be taken as: dry, cold, hot, indifferent, or just plain stupid?
It’s amazing how often people overlook simple miscommunication when texting. Our emotions, both positive and negative, can severely skew the way we interpret written messages. The lack of facial expression, vocal intonation and other nonverbal clues creates a greater range of possible interpretations for written words compared with face to face and audible communication.
Once the context of a statement is misunderstood and neither person realizes the misunderstanding has occurred, both parties may continue the conversation under a different set of assumptions about the other person’s thoughts and motivations.
In any conversation it is important to pause and reflect when the mood goes bad and you become frustrated, confused or angry. Whenever you become upset during a texting conversation, stop texting for five minutes, slow down your racing thoughts, and go back to the first messages in the conversation to reread them in search of ambiguity.
If you find something that could be interpreted in more ways than one, you may have discovered the reason why your otherwise wonderful co-worker or boss suddenly became so annoying. He may have misunderstood something you said, or you may have misunderstood something he said. Usually, it’s the emotional undertone that is missed. People assume you understand the mental framework from which they are speaking. The simple action of responding with what seems to be too short of a message can lead us to assuming or reading into things that are completely false and unnecessary.
The misunderstanding is often near the beginning of a text conversation. After that, emotions take over and no more misunderstandings are needed to continue fueling the fire of argument or hurt feelings. Get in the habit of searching for misunderstanding and double meanings when reading and writing your text messages.
Most importantly, try to be nice, or at least respectful every time you text, and of course never Text and Drive.