“Hey, how’s it going. I was thinking of you today and thought maybe we could get together for coffee this week and catch up. Text me when you can.”
We have all probably received a text message like this or a similar one.
A message that comes out of the blue. Maybe it’s from a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague or even a family member. Something about it raises questions in our mind.
Why now? Why do we have to get together? Why coffee? Why? Why? Why? And so on.
“Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate how you feel, and misinterpret what other people mean.” – Spirit Science
The problem today is that we think we can replace normal face to face or telephone contact with text messaging. We think we can do this for our personal, our professional and our business life.
And why do we – because it is so much easier to do and less risky.
The fact is, while it is easier, it is not less risky nor is it more effective. And here is why.
- Texting is superficial. It is not a heartfelt discussion with another person. It is a basically a one-dimensional conversation. It’s great for simple questions or ideas but cannot be used for understanding a concept, or a person’s feelings.
- Texting is addictive. Why is it that we think we have to interrupt everything we are doing to answer a text message? Is it that urgent? No, it because we think we are in a conversation with the other person and have to respond immediately. The phone then controls us rather that we controlling our phone. That is why we text when we are driving too, because it is more important to respond that to be safe driving.
- Texting creates expectations. We expect the other person to answer us right away. And when they don’t we assume that they are ignoring us creating in some cases anxiety in us.
- Texting can be misinterpreted. What we write in a text or how we write it, is not always want we mean to say. Furthermore there is no immediate confirmation that what we wrote was properly understood, as in a non-electronic discussion. Consequently, the other person may receive the wrong message, and the result and or the relationship may not be salvageable.
So why do we continue to use text messaging to replace calling the person and having a meaningful discussion?
Well because it is easy and it relieves us of any discomfort that comes with immediate rejection. And we become an addicted, superficial ‘texter’ with unreal expectations.
I understand that we are social animals who have developed social media to be able to reach people at a moments notice. But it has also developed us into people who can reject others at a moment’s notice without even knowing what we are rejecting.
There are so many times when I have been caught up in the back and forth text messaging only to misunderstand what is really being said, so I’ve learned to say “let’s do a quick call” and it works 10x better to jump on a call. This has helped tremendously when working with my team who happen to be all across North America.
The second option is getting on Zoom, so we can see each others expressions, etc., and get down to the conversation in a much better faster way. I have found it takes just a few seconds/minutes to talk by phone as it is to type in the message.
Hear me on this… it can get expensive!
I remember when I had to pay for an entire dinner of 8 people, because I broke the rules and picked up my phone to answer a text message from my son. We had all put our phones in the middle of the table and the rule was that the first one to pick it up had to pay for everyone’s dinner.
Quite a costly mistake, but my daughter felt strongly about this and I learned my lesson from that time on.
So thinking that texting is the answer to how we communicate in our personal or business life is dangerous, to say the least, just as driving and texting is.
Starting a conversation through texting is fine. But it has to evolve from the initial connection to be truly effective.
We are much better off to engage in telephone, zoom or face to face meetings where we can feel and understand the person through their tone, their emotion, their eyes, and their body language.
Only in this way, will we have a real discussion where we can ask questions, sense pain and discomfort, show our empathy and understanding, and speak from our heart.
By doing so, we will then be successful in our personal and business lives.
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J.Meyer