In today’s tech driven world, it’s quite feasible to avoid a voice conversation with another human being unless it’s in person and even then, conversation is often optional or limited as people are busy clicking away on their electronic devices. We welcomed and embraced technology with the introduction of email followed by texting.
Alas, as a result, we often avoid face to face or phone conversations, whether for business or pleasure. We can now handle a good share of our communication with our fingers rather than with our voices. Is this a problem you may ask yourself? The answer is yes, it can be especially if the majority of your conversations are the electronic kind.
Developmental psychologists studying the impact of texting are especially concerned about young people’s interpersonal skills which have not yet fully formed. If kids today do not adequately acquire those skills before adulthood, moving out into the real world, can actually be scary—there’s a genuine fear of conversation.
While email and text have offered us an exciting, evolving society, you have to wonder if we’ve gone too far. Do we now avoid real conversations at all costs and try to solely handle our correspondence through email and text?
Of course it’s convenient and quick, but have we lost the art of communication? And if we lose the art of real communication, are we also jeopardizing real relationships? How can solid relationships be built with 4 word sentences and emojis?
Whether in the business world or in our personal lives, real communication often takes courage. Developing your emotional intelligence is a critical ingredient in all healthy adult relationships. Emails and texts offer only a snippet of someone’s real self.
When you talk to someone, whether in person or on the phone, that’s when their true personality comes out. Hearing someone’s voice tells you a lot about the person, are they positive or negative, happy or sad, enthusiastic or disinterested.
Whether we love it or not, emailing and texting are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean we should let technology create fear of real conversation or sharing of ourselves in a meaningful way.
Let’s save texting for the simple stuff, like confirming the time you’re meeting someone, what to grab at the grocery store or a quick text during the middle of the day to let them know you’re thinking of them. But texting is not the place for anything serious. Never handle something over text that should be handled in person or over the phone. Don’t be afraid of connecting with someone through real conversation.
Here are 5 reasons we need to bring back the art of real communication by actually picking up the phone to talk:
1. Conversation with Inflection
It may sound like a trivial thing, but with email and text there is no inflection.We’re continually forced to practice interpreting nonverbal visual cues. It can actually be very stressful.
Depending on your history with the person, the state of your relationship, your latest experiences together, and even personal mood, you may read 10 different subtexts into that four word sentence. And do we bravely come out and ask what they meant if we’re not sure?
Not usually. Have you ever gotten a text from someone and reread it 20 times to figure out if the person was actually mad at you, being sarcastic or if they were plain old joking? Return to vocal cues and you bring back the gift of pitch and tone. The guesswork is essentially removed.
2. You Get the Full Story
In the email and text world, there’s just no possible way to share a full story. You’d be typing away on your phone for hours trying to tell a story with any detail. So instead you tell the quick, shortened version leaving out many of the nuances that make your story relevant and important.
The complexity of human communication gets shortchanged and those things are what lead to better, deeper relationships. So if you’re continually sharing your stories in shortened form by email or text, then you’re never really sharing that piece of yourself.
Typically with phone conversations, you’ll remember talking to a specific person(s) and sharing your story because you’ll also have their response saved in your brain. How did they react? Did they offer advice? If you’re trying to remember if someone responded to your story via text, you’ll most likely not remember who you shared it with and what their response was.
3. Less Risk of Confusion
Have you ever read an email or text and found yourself completely and utterly confused? You’re not alone. Electronic message confusion happens in the workplace all the time. People don’t realize how little they are actually communicating—we think we’ve said a lot more than we actually have or it’s interpreted completely different than intended and it leaves people on the other end totally puzzled.
Then there’s the dreaded autocorrect. Oh yah, you know what I’m talking about! What was meant as a simple, innocent statement can get changed into something very inappropriate and confusing. And once you realize it, it’s too late as you’ve already hit “send.” Save yourself the time of proofing every email and text and pick up the phone. You can share the full story, including the details, and there’s virtually no confusion. Isn’t life already confusing enough?
4. Impromptu Add-Ons
During real phone conversations, we take our thoughts, ideas, and plans to unexpected places. We may begin telling a story or sharing something with another person and “add-on” or expand upon our thoughts to help the person better understand what we’re trying to convey. We get to elaborate on the story.
Whether you’re sharing thoughts from a client at work or talking about your crazy weekend with friends. The add-ons add up to a better, more interesting story. These kinds of stories can’t be shared the same way via email and text.
5. Texting and Emails Lack Closure
How many conversations have you had via text or email that have proper endings like “goodbye” or “talk to you soon”? Many times while texting, the conversation just trails off with no formal closure. One person just doesn’t send another message back. It’s dropped into the black hole of texts.
Or maybe someone responds to your email in very impersonal means by just answering a question or sending you information. There’s no formal closure, it’s just left hanging in midair. It’s kind of rude and lacks any formal closure. Most people like happy endings, and not to be left hanging. On a phone call or in person, you’re pretty much guaranteed a decent closure.
Of course, real conversations take time out of your already hectic day, but you’ll walk away with better relationships that far outweigh the time invested. You’re getting things handled with less confusion, hearing full stories from people you care about, building stronger relationships, and catching up with old friends. And nothing beats a great conversation that connects you to someone.