Being a sales professional, I would like to believe that communication is one of my main strengths. My ability to connect, engage with, read, and understand people will hopefully provide some sort of credibility to the piece I am sharing with you today. In our generation of avoiding real conversation at all costs, whether it may be texting or Snapchat, we are slowly taking a very active part in sabotaging our relationships in personal and professional realms. With the continuing advancements in technology, I feel it is our responsibility to be able to gage and preserve genuine human interaction where it is most needed.
“We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.” – Vincent Nichols
You have a business proposition of some kind and you type out a novel sending it to your manager. This is a terrible way to convey any sort of sense of urgency or enthusiasm about your new idea. How would you feel if they promoted you through an email and never said anything to you in person or in a meeting? It is just not logical. Pick up the phone and use email as a means of follow-up or to be organized. A screen of any kind should not be the backbone of a message. It shows me you do not really have much invested in the purpose if you are not able to conduct a direct conversation with me regarding it.
My rule of thumb for texting was always that if the conversation is important enough to have more than 3 exchanges back and forth that probably calls for a phone call. Everyone is aware of the downsides of texting and I am sure to some degree we have all experienced it.
Here are some downsides (purely for entertainment purposes):
-Your text may not even send and now you look extremely rude because they saw that bubble to indicate you were typing. You forgot to hit send or your reception is not that great…and conveniently enough for you, it is a serious conversation.
-The conversation is of an emotional nature and your texts seem short, cold, and insensitive. How can a screen tell how you are feeling when sending the message? What if you are simply at a loss for words? Easily misinterpreted, but wait, you put an emoji…does that count? (Good luck to sarcastic individuals.)
-Your message was autocorrected and you did not notice because the receiver never responded since they were so disturbed by the mishaps.
-You end up texting the person you were texting about. Well, I guess on the bright side, it does open the door for a more direct conversation. Even though, you were never planning on opening that door anytime soon.
-Your text was so long that it was divided into four separate messages and was sent completely out of order. Puzzles are fun to put together by the fireplace but not when persisting to decipher an already complicated message.
-Your text beep is so subtle and you are blasting TLC because it is Throwback Thursday. Therefore, you do not hear your phone for the next hour.
And now here are a few instances in which texting someone may not be preferable etiquette (and maybe you should just dial their number or grab a coffee):
-When making plans (dates, vacations, etc)
-When clarifying or trying to understand a complex situation or concept
-When you are confiding in someone
-When you have an extreme emotion of any kind—just talk about it.
-When picking someone up from the airport or being picked up at the airport (Those officers will make me move…so please just make my life easier by telling me what door you are at!)
-When you are lost and trying to find someone
-When trying to end a relationship (Cringe.)
Additionally, with the number of social media platforms available now days, this article could be a series in itself…but that is not my intention. I wanted to scratch the surface in terms of how we are truly inhibiting ourselves with these communication faux pas. When you remove eye contact and tone of voice from a conversation, you take away not only from its importance but also respect for the other person and their time. I consider my time to be the most valuable asset in my possession. Therefore, when you deliberately choose to ineffectively communicate for the sole excuse of being lazy, you have already sent a message of its own. Sometimes, the most important communication is also hearing what has not been spoken. You miss out on the other’s body gestures which may show you if their words are actually contradicting during a conversation. Apprehension and concern may not be evident on the phone and therefore, you also end up with a not so genuine exchange. Let us simplify each other’s lives both at work and at home by taking the time to voice our words instead of letting our thumbs do the job.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
-George Benard Shaw
Be the change,