Communicating Effectively with Text
With the advent of text messaging, it’s easy to send a quick message to your significant other when you’re in a hurry. While texting is faster than an email, and usually more convenient since your phone is on you at all times, you should think twice before you send a message in anger. Sometimes texting can backfire – what you say may be taken the wrong way, or you might send something too quickly and then wish you hadn’t.
Here are three reasons you should think before you text, especially when you’re in a fight!
There’s not much context.
Yes, sometimes it’s easier to put your thoughts in writing, because you can organize them and make sure you create exactly the message you want. However, when you’re texting, chances are you will type something no more than 200-300 characters, so what you say won’t have a lot of context surrounding it. This means that you won’t have as much space to explain fully what you mean, increasing the chances that your brief message could be taken the wrong way or misunderstood.
It’s too fast.
Your phone is probably within reach most of the time, so it’s easy to shoot off a text message when you’re mad at your partner. It’s much easier than if you had to actually dial his or her number, wait for it to ring, and either leave a message or actually talk to them. This could mean you are more likely to send something in an annoyed moment that you’ll later realize you wish you could take back. The next time you want to send
a not-so-nice text, make yourself wait at least 5 minutes. You can even write a draft (just don’t hit send!) and then read it again in 5 to 10 minutes. You might realize the text sounds too mean or accusing, and now you’ll have the chance to delete it or change it before it gets sent.
It can be read anywhere.
Unlike a face-to-face conversation in which you can control the environment – your text will definitely be read from a mobile phone. This means you might catch your significant other right when they are about to head into a car and drive or go into an important meeting at work. Your partner may have just received some disheartening news, and suddenly whatever you wanted to angry text them about doesn’t seem as important and can be brought up at a later time. Be considerate – don’t send a text that is likely to upset your partner, because you can’t know for sure when he or she will happen to read it. It might be at the worst time possible!
Texting is easy and quick. It’s tempting to communicate that way when you’re upset. However, consider that your text might sound worse than you intend or be read at the worst possible moment. Instead, send a text saying that you want to talk in detail more later, or at the least, make yourself take a time out before you send a message.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653