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8 Reasons You Should Never Let Text Message Arguments Happen

8 Reasons You Should Never Let Text Message Arguments Happen

There’s a saying among opponents of text messaging that if the telephone was invented after a text messaging device, everyone would call each other and never text again. There’s something to be said about that. I know, texting is convenient, and in today’s busy world we can’t be bothered to call each other for every little thing, but it’s important to question that mindset, especially when it comes to having important conversations.

We’ve all seen the detriments of text messaging in one way or another, and the ensuing arguments are not pretty. While some miscommunication can lead to a short pang of anxiety, a small misunderstanding through texting could lead to something much worse.

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Texting is meant for quick communication

Texting should really only be used when you need to transmit important information quickly. “Got milk.” “Can you pick up Bobby?” “Be home soon.” Nothing can really be misconstrued from these quick messages (although don’t hold me to that). When texting is used as a primary means of communication, however, things start to get out of hand.

Unfocused communication

Anyone who texts knows that it’s not the only thing you do when you do it. Usually, you’re reading a book, watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, or something other than watching the screen waiting for the next message to come in. So when you’re in an argument with a friend or significant other, chances are you’re not truly focused on the problem, and your mind is elsewhere. Not hitting a disagreement head on leads to…

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Long, drawn out arguments

Texting draws arguments out much longer than they need to be. You have to sit and wait for the other party to respond, which could take anywhere from seconds to hours, depending on the situation. While most serious arguments are dealt with immediately, sometimes one person is left in limbo, not knowing if the other even got the text, or cared enough to read it. Any delay leaves one party anxiously paranoid, which only serves to further the argument.

Texting avoids necessary confrontation

Known to psychologists as a form of avoidance, texting about major conflicts is simply a way to talk about the situation as if it’s not actually happening to you. On that same note, if you’re discussing a problem about yourself as if it doesn’t apply to you, then the solution you reach doesn’t apply to you either; nothing gets accomplished via “solution by text.” It may be difficult, but couples who are comfortable talking out their problems in person are much more connected than those who only communicate “big things” through a cell phone screen.

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Texts can be ignored

You wouldn’t simply stare at your friend and not say something after he confronted you, would you? But we do it all the time with texts. The ultimate defense mechanism is ignoring the problem. It might be easiest at the time to simply put the phone down and come back to it “when you’re ready,” but, since there really is no convenient time to have an argument, you’ll keep putting it off until more and more damage is done. Don’t let things pile up to a breaking point; call and get through your problems.

Texting lacks emotional attachment

Like we just said, texting detaches you from the situation you’re discussing. But more than that, texts can be misconstrued, and be the beginning of certain arguments. You’ve heard the sentiment: “Oh, that sounded harsh, better say ‘lol’ and type a smiley face!” Chances are, if you sent a message that was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, it most likely came out as derogatory. If you made the same statement in person, your friend would have heard the sarcasm in your voice, and known not to take you too seriously.

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Texts aren’t private

Text messages definitely are not private. If you and your significant other are at a party, and face a disagreement, you can leave and deal with it without others looking on. When you argue through text, you run the risk of your SO tossing his (or her) phone to a friend, commenting “Look how ridiculous this conversation is.” Of course, all that will do is reinforce your SO’s perspective, as the friend will most likely agree with the comment. Arguments should not be about “who’s right,” but rather about how both parties can reach a common ground. Making an argument public is completely counter-intuitive to this.

Texting leads to regretful statements

We’ve discussed how emotionally detached text messaging is, but let’s take it a step further. Since both parties are using texts as an emotional wall, they sometimes feel like they can say hurtful, terrible things that they never would say if they were face-to-face. In person, they’d see the love in each others’ faces, and the emotions in their voices. Being physically close to a loved one while arguing makes you realize that, in the long-run, the current argument is trivial compared to the love you share. Seriously. The next time you’re upset with someone you love, try to argue in person. Chances are, it won’t last long, and will be much more productive for your relationship.

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Featured photo credit: Free File Hunt via freefilehunt.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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