Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What did you say?

Something interesting has happened over the past 24 hours that makes me want to talk to you about the subject I study-- communication. Even if you haven't spent an unnatural amount of time in classes and the library learning about communication, there are probably a few things that you know about it. The thing I want to focus on today is precisely what I am doing now, communicating online. When you send e-mails, Facebook or MySpace messages, there is a HUGE amount of room for error. The other person's background, mood they are in when they read what you've written, and circumstances surrounding the message can have a large impact on how they interpret what you say.

So, my friends, be careful. Nonverbal cues like smiling, tone of voice, and gestures are not easily interpreted in written, electronic messages. I suppose that is why we invented emoticons. :) But even then, the possibility of being misinterpreted is still greater than in face-to-face communication. Think before you type and if you aren't sure how your message will be taken, hold onto it before you post/send it. Maybe later you will feel the need to make some modifications. Never use online communication as a substitute for things that need to be said face-to-face. Try to be sure you are clear in the message you are trying to get across. Jack is excellent at that as he usually will take extra time to reiterate his message and be sure it is coming out the way he means for it to. My business training causes me to lean towards brevity, although writing a 200 page dissertation did help me be more thorough and expansive... but I digress.

Technology is a great blessing, but it can also cause us to open up a can of worms. I hope as you continue to write e-mails, blogs, and Facebook posts that you think before you click send. And if you are on the misinterpreting end (as I was in the past 24 hours), take the time to clear it up with the person you misinterpreted. Thankfully, my friend did express what she really meant to me and I had the opportunity to explain why I reacted the way I did. Hopefully our relationship is not damaged. I also hope that your relationships are not damaged by something as simple as miscommunication.

1 comment:

Jack S. said...

Both text messaging, and instant messaging are also medians where one could often be misunderstood.