Many of us like nothing more than to sit down and just talk with our friends and family and to catch up. This past week, talking was a little different for me. I had laryngitis. Seriously, I could hardly squeak out any words at all! It was interesting trying to be understood. That's where texting came in. Since I couldn't really be heard on the phone, texting was the best way for me to return calls and communicate with others. I found out that although helpful, many times I was misunderstood. I found that I had to use emojis in order to communicate feelings since my tone could not be heard.
Texting seems to be the way many people communicate. In fact, I found out that many people use the word talk and texting as if they are the same thing. In fact, many young people do not leave voice mails anymore. It is assumed that if you really want to contact someone, you will just text them. I have found that there are a few problems with this.
When I work with young children, I teach them that there are 4 things that one should do when trying to communicate effectively and to have a conversation. Perhaps we adults need to review these! Here they are:
1. Make good eye contact. This lets the other person know that you are truly paying attention. It helps you to feel a part of a conversation and to feel that this is important and worthwhile.
2. Nod your head. By nodding your head you are telling the other person that you continue to be involved in this conversation. You are following what they are saying.
3. Say, ung huh, ung huh. Once again, this allows you to use non-verbals to communicate in one more way that you are indeed a part of this conversation.
4. Make a statement that lets the other person know that you are truly listening - you are not just using non-verbals. A conversation implies that this is a two way communication. You might say something like - "Wow! That sounds like fun!"
When we use texting only, the human component is gone. It allows more opportunity for misunderstanding our tone and even for misunderstanding our intentions. There is the potential for feelings getting hurt. There is potential for less interaction. There is the potential for more separateness instead of togetherness. All of these things erode relationships - marriages and friendships. It doesn't allow for us to have real communication and learn about one another and truly listen to one another.
Texting worked for me this past week. It allowed me to continue to communicate in a limited fashion. It allowed me to get some work done and to feel productive. As far as I am concerned, though - face to face is real conversation. Texting and talking are NOT synonyms. I will continue to cultivate my friendships, my marriage and other relationships through real face to face conversation. How about you? Can we talk?