Some of you know that I am a bit of a Techno-phobe. I will openly admit that I am not in love that technology is seeping into each part of our lives. So, when texting first became a thing – I fought it hard!!! I wanted nothing to do with it. It felt so cold and impersonal.
For better and for worse, texting is the new normal and we either evolve or go extinct so I have gotten on board. (Albeit a bit reluctantly.)
I regularly see people making some pretty big and often hurtful mistakes with texting. Next time, we will get into some do’s and don’ts but this week let’s start with whytexting can be so fraught with danger.
It’s so nonverbal!
Albert Mehrabian’s research suggests that 93%of human communication is nonverbal!!! Now keep in mind that the 93% includes context (meaning the relationship between you and the other person, the subject matter, the environment you’re each in, etc.) But even if you round that to 85%, texting means you lose so much information like the other person’s tone, their body language, their facial expressions.
I know some of you are thinking that is what emojis are for… But we all know someone who laughs when they don’t want to cry. When you are face to face with them you the opportunity to see their face and hear their tone. People will absolutely use emojis and/or memes that are not congruent with their feelings. Emojis are not exactly a truth serum and cannot replace face to face communication.
I’ve been guilty of this too but another big problem with texting is that we rarely give it our undivided attention. How often have you read and/or responded to a text message while you were distracted with something else?
If the text reads something like, “I’m going to stop by the grocery store for milk on my way home so I will be 15 minutes late” – then no big deal. But the truth is we tend to treat all text messages with the same half attention no matter how big or small their meaning may be.
There are just some things that shouldn’t be dealt with via text. You can ask for time via text but big, important conversations are often 100 times more productive face to face or at least over the phone.
The [fill-in-the-blank] factor
The truth is that in the absence of information, we make assumptions. And when 93% of the information is missing we end up doing a LOT of gap filling and humans tend to fill in the gaps with mean/hurtful/inaccurate information.
For example, a simple exchange could go like this:y home so I will be 15 minutes late”
- Person A: “Hey! I’m going to stop by the grocery store for milk on my way home so I will be 15 minutes late”
- Person B: “Ok”
- Person A: “How is your day going?”
- Person B: “Fine. Yours?”
- Person A: “Fine.”
That conversation could be had between two people who are both really busy at work/school right then or it could be between two people who are in the middle of a lot of tension. If you are Person A trying to reach out and start a conversation, it certainly didn’t work. On the other hand, if you just wanted to provide a logistical update, it went just fine.
Human interactions are so complicated, it’s difficult to name each and every part that gets lost when we use flat forms of communication like texting or even writing (emails, social media posts/messages, etc.). This isn’t a reason to never text again but it is certainly a reason to be mindful about what gets lost in translation and why it may be necessary to pick up the phone, FaceTime or (insert gasp here) actually see the person face to face.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to live your best life, call me and let’s get started!