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Texting-For Information, Not Communication

Let’s imagine this situation. You send a text with a smile and in your mind, you hear it as funny and you think of how your co-worker will laugh and respond. But their response it not laughing. To the receiver, it was received as abrupt, and taken completely out of context. Why did it even go that way? The receiver of the message heard their tone of voice, applied their past experiences to that subject, and their emotion in what you wrote.

Most companies often struggle with communication. With today’s technologies there are many forms of communication but understanding when to use the correct type can save unintended emotional responses and breakdown. According to Pew Research, 97% of smartphone owners use their phones to text every week. That is a lot of texting. So, when is texting, email, phone call, or a face to face meeting going to be the appropriate form of communication? It depends on the information you are wanting to share.

If the message is bad news, good news, something that evokes an emotion, the communication should be a face to face or at a minimum, a phone call. Written text doesn’t have body language, facial cues or vocal cues and they are often left to interpretation. People read the message and make their conclusions that the sender may not have intended. Text message are best for short, informative messages, such as “I am on my way to the meeting” or “I’ll see you today at 3:00pm” and other quick responses. If you need to provide direction, communicate something of importance, or make sure the message it not misunderstood, a phone or face to face is your best option, depending on the content.

I had a colleague tell me how he uses the different types of communication to understand the importance of an issue. He shared with me that, if you want him to respond in 1-2 business days, then leave him a voicemail. If you want a response same day, send an email. If you need him to respond in 1-2 hours, send a text. Communication tools used in the right way can be very powerful. However, one bad text message can destroy a relationship quickly.

Be aware of when you should avoid digital communication, such as when you or the receiver are in a highly volatile, emotional state. Have you ever typed an email and your fingers are flying across the keyboard and steam is flowing from your ears? Well maybe not actually blowing steam, but you get the picture. Communication in that frame of mind should not occur with your co-workers, family, or friends. Once you hit “send”, you cannot take it back. It is best to pause, cool down, and then communicate in the way that will be best received by the person you are trying to reach out to. As the sender of a text you only get to pick the words, and a smiley emoji won’t always make a bad text happy. The receiver gets to add tone of voice, body language, and other conclusions as they read it. So, make sure you are texting and emailing only when appropriate, and picking up the phone or visiting that person face to face, so you don’t risk hurting your relationships.

Want to provide training to your team? OmniaHR offers many courses that covers how to communicate effectively and help you reach your business goals. Reach out to us today to learn more.

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