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Are You Hiding Behind E-mail and Texting?

Please understand. I am thankful for modern communication technology. We can have access to information almost anywhere and anytime. Internet, the cloud, smart phones, tablets, social media and WI-FI have changed our lives. In many ways it is liberating. I can go almost anywhere and have access to my personal and business information, customers, and friends.

However, I propose there needs to be some wisdom applied when using digital communication for human connection. None of it rivals the effectiveness of a face-to-face conversation. E-mail and texting specifically create the illusion of communication, where instead misunderstanding is created.  Without complete communication, our minds fill in the gaps. Text alone lacks body language, facial expression, voice intonation, and the opportunity to monitor responses and reactions.  The words we use are less than 10% of the communication!

This means that though E-mail and texting is a great way to convey logistical, factual information such as directions, confirming appointments, short greetings and thank you notes, when we need to confront a problem and conflict is possible, e-mails and texts are fraught with problems. When the emotion is high and you are only using words absent of body language, facial expression, voice intonation and volume, it is likely text and e-mail communication will be misunderstood.  Perception of the communication becomes reality, and that perception may have little resemblance to what the sender intended. Such communication technology lacks essential human signals and data.

As a coach and counselor, I observe that many people use e-mail and texting as a way to avoid true communication. People shoot off an e-mail and feel that they have met their obligation to communicate. What they are really doing is avoiding a personal conversation because it us uncomfortable. People have been fired from a job, reprimanded for unethical behavior, and told that they are really a problem person via a text message. This is communication abuse.  They text and run. They are responsible to “address the situation”, but instead of arranging a conversation, they send a text or e-mail and feel they have met that responsibility.

I am encouraging you to examine your communication and assess if you are truly communicating clearly. I strongly suggest that you use the appropriate tool for the nature of the message. This is common sense, but typically not common practice. The best indication of the effectiveness of your communication is the response you get.

 

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