Texting, emailing, twittering-it’s all the rage. But recently I got myself into trouble with a typed communication.
Let’s talk about communication. It’s a process of exchanging information to share knowledge, express feelings, state our positions, or share our skills. However, communication is more than words. It’s made up of verbal (words) and nonverbal (gestures, expressions, etc.) messages.
Researchers in communication suggest that only 7% of a message is sent through words and the rest is all nonverbal expressions. A lot of the time it is what the person is not saying, their inflection, their gestures, their expression, their tone, and most importantly-your gut reaction to what they’ve said-which speaks louder than words. With texting and emailing you only get the written word which definitely has its limitations, especially if you do not know the person well. (That was my faux pas.)
When you type your communication, it is difficult to express your feelings and intentions. Some emails have added emoticons, but watching a little smiley-face jump up and down is not quite the same thing. If someone sends you a smiley-face, what is their true emotion? Are they serious, lying, depressed, or being sarcastic?
When communicating with family and friends, you already know their intentions and feelings toward you. If they accidentally type something that sounds a little odd, you assume the best. That doesn’t always happen with acquaintances. With emails and texting, we don’t get the chance to stop the person and ask, “What was that you said?” All we see are those glaring words on the screen that we are enraged about and quickly respond to without thinking it through. People rarely text back and ask, “What did you mean?” or “Could you explain?”
For some reason with the written word, what you type is fact and not to be questioned. If someone typed it, they meant it. But how often in verbal communication does something come out wrong? In that case, we get the chance to quickly say, “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” Unfortunately, once the message is sent – it’s sent. And unfortunately, it might be sent to more people than you had planned. (Another one of my faux pas.)
The current estimate is that more than ten million texts and emails are sent each second and is rapidly replacing all other forms of communication. Sad to think about when you realize the importance of non-verbal communication. It could explain why the number of internet scams are increasing by exponential numbers. In 2007, The Internet Crime Complaint Center reported these statistics:
o Non-delivered merchandise and/or payment made up 19% of complaints
o Check fraud represented 4.9% of complaints
o About 70% of the fraud victims were scammed through the web
o About 30% of the victims were scammed by emails
Of course I’m not saying that you can’t be duped in person, but if someone shows up as my new financial advisor in an unmarked white truck, wearing a red bandana and white T-shirt, I’m probably not going to do business with him…wise?
As I was growing up, my mother used to recite this quote:
“Keep your words soft and sweet, You’ll never know from time-to-time, Which ones you’ll have to eat.”
Those words prove even more important today with the number of words being sent by text and email. And you cannot always be prepared for the way those people who say they are your friend or your companion in crime will use your name to find out what you have been saying!
Written communication used to be an art form in which you painted pictures in pictures, just like a mosaic. Today it is more of a business process, especially when you transfer your communications using email. The art of writing has mostly been lost in today’s society due to the speed and quickness of the writing instrument, especially when you are dealing with sensitive information.
Let’s face it, as in all areas of life, if you don’t practice what you preach, you may not be the best at it. The art of conversation writing, based on trust and respect, is vital to all parties involved. Here are a few tips to help you begin to practice your skills with real-time communication.