The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw
Texting has now become our way of communicating with each other, often taking the place of face to face dialogue. Many of us may see this as a good thing. After all, it’s efficient; we no longer have to answer the phone and interrupt our work or activities, we can just look at the phone at a time that’s convenient, and respond when it’s convenient. However, texting has some impactful downsides.
How can texting be harmful?
Without the benefit of tone of voice or body language, meaning can often be misconstrued or lost. Also, we might use a text as an opportunity to say something that we would never say in person. Effective communication is challenging enough without these added complications.
Another issue with texting is our use of it in an argument. A lot of people argue through text, making it even more challenging to have a fair argument. Most of us have not learned to argue in a non-inflammatory way, and texting can further inflame the discussion. And, with texts, we might keep them and then use them as a weapon later, saying things like “remember when you texted this to me?!” Some people may even break up via text, which most of us can probably see is a pretty horrible way to use electronic communications.
An additional misuse of texting is when we use texting to say something that we are afraid to say in person. Whether that is setting a boundary or sharing feelings, we might feel that we are able to say it more easily from a safe distance. However, if we don’t learn how to work through this fear and learn to share in person, then we not may feel as emotionally fulfilled and may be missing out on effective communication within our relationships.
Texting instead of relationship-building:
Most of us would tell a stranger that our family and close relationships are the most important things in our lives. However, we don’t always act in such a manner. For instance, it’s all too easy with texting to have an ongoing conversation with a partner, child, or parent, and then, when we arrive home at night (tired, spent, and ready for the television), we no longer have anything left to say to the other person.
We might even feel that if we didn’t have the ability to text with the other person during the day that we would never get a chance to talk to them at all, that perhaps texting is the only way that we can get that person’s attention, whether that is our partner or our children. But this could be a major red flag for us. Whoever it is, whichever relationship we are referring to, we need to create the time to be together every day (more on this below). Because when we say that texting is our only option, this is merely a rationalization. Every person has fifteen minutes in their day to devote to loved ones; after all, we find time to eat ever day.
Find tips for communicating better in my article.
My wish for you today is that you can make time to have an in-person conversation with those closest to you.
-- Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director.