If you think about it, technology is mind-blowing. We can pick up this tiny gizmo, type a message and send it almost instantly anywhere in the world. We can communicate and see videos of each other real time from any place on the planet. Everything is connected with this invisible net of electromagnetic waves, data, and information.
When we put it this way, it’s almost science fiction, other-worldly type stuff. Technology has made communication so much easier…right?
In some ways, sure. But in so many other, more important ways, definitely not.
As incredible as the technology is, the ones still pushing the buttons, the ones still reading the pixels on the screens, are humans, with beating hearts and human emotions. Here’s where science fiction can cause a lot of friction!
See, back in the day, we humans used to talk like - well…humans. We used to communicate face to face. We had multiple channels with which to share our ideas, with a smaller group of people; we expressed our ideas and beliefs with a very small, very local group of people with words, tone of voice, body language, and energy.
Today, with so much of the communication being instant, typed out, and hastily sent, we are missing out on the other channels of communication. We are communicating words in some way, but not tone, body language, or energy.
The result is large scale breakdown in communication and therefore connection.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you text me and ask if we could meet for a chat. And I reply, “Sure.”
Is that an Of-course-for-sure-I’d-love-to kind of “sure”?
Is that an I-guess-so-I-just have-to-roll-my-eyes-first kind of “sure”?
You can’t tell. Because all you received was a word. You didn’t receive any supporting information from my tone, body language, or perhaps most importantly my energy.
Because there is so much missing information, you begin to fill in the blanks. If you don’t know what my tone was, you assume. If you don’t know what my body language was, you imagine it. If you can’t feel my energy, you guess. Depending on how far you are outside of my close circle of people, you’ll have even less to go on.
For the most part, these assumptions take place unconsciously. Sometimes they’re accurate. Sometimes they’re not.
Here’s some tips to keep in mind in this age of communicating via email and texts whether you’re sending or receiving. These tips will decrease the stress that can take place around typed communication.
Benefit of the doubt. Because so much of communication is left up to assumptions, give the sender the benefit of the doubt. Be mindful about the gaps that you’re filling in.
Some folks are different than you are. Some people prefer to communicate in a more wordy style, others are more direct and brief. Be mindful of your preference and don’t judge others if they aren’t like you.
It’s literally black dots on a screen. Sometimes we can get really upset about what we read on our screens. Remember that they’re just black pixels that make up words on a gizmo. Depending on the situation, it can be very helpful to simply shut off your phone and get back to the people and situations close to you.
Talk about it. Remember, so much of the typed conversation is made up in your mind. It’s a story you’re telling yourself. If you can, have a clarifying conversation with the individual to clear up any assumptions that you made. Maybe the assumptions were accurate, maybe not.
Shrink your world. In this age of social media where we can communicate with almost everyone, almost everywhere, we have a billion opinions to worry about. That’s a billion different assumptions to make about a billion people you don’t know. And a billion people making assumptions about you and they don’t even know you! In real life, you maybe know a couple hundred people and only about 10 of them really well. Communicate with those people more, and communicate with the other billion less.
Use your heart. When you type something out, be mindful of the assumptions that others might make about you. Be clear about your entire message and communicate from the heart. Avoid being sarcastic, defensive, snarky, or condescending.
Do your best. As the sender, you can only control how you send information, but you have very little control over how it’s received. Do your best sending it clearly and compassionately. If the receiver doesn’t receive it well, rest easy, knowing you honestly did your best to send it.
Where have you gotten some typed wires crossed? What assumptions were made?
Is there a way for you to send messages more clearly, expressing yourself in a more heartfelt and compassionate way?
Where can you give others some benefit of the doubt, some compassionate latitude, in how you receive messages?
Here’s to Conquering Stress.
The Stress Experts
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Practical Strategies to Deal with Daily Stressors
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