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Are You Hiding Behind E-mail and Texting?


I am thankful for modern communication technology. We have access to information almost anywhere and anytime. Internet, the cloud, smart phones, tablets, social media and WI-FI have changed our lives. In many ways it is liberating. I can go almost anywhere and have access to my personal and business information, customers, and friends.

However, we need to be wise when using digital communication for human connection. No digital communication rivals the effectiveness of a face-to-face conversation. E-mail and texting often create the illusion of complete and true communication. The fact is that digital text alone lacks body language, facial expression, voice intonation, and the opportunity to monitor response and reaction. If you also consider that few people use proper punctuation in digital communications, you will recognize the lack of good context in digital communication. Words alone are only 10% of the message! Context rules communication.

This means that e-mail and texting are great tools to convey logistical, factual information such as directions, confirming appointments, short greetings, confirmations and thank you notes. However, when problems need solved, and there is potential conflict, e-mails and texts are fraught with challenges and dangers. When the emotion is high it is imperative to have the context of body language, facial expression, voice intonation and volume to have full understanding. Frequently there is a gap between the message that you intend to convey and what is perceived, and that gap occurs because digital communication technology lacks a full human expression.

In my roles as coach and counselor, I frequently observe that people use e-mail and texting to avoid true communication. They will shoot off an e-mail and feel that they have met their obligation to communicate. What they are really doing is avoiding an uncomfortable personal conversation. Employees have been fired, reprimanded for unethical behavior, and told that they are really a problem person via text message. This is communication abuse. They text and run. If you are a leader and responsible to “address the situation”, texting and e-mailing are insufficient substitutes for a personal conversation.

I encourage you to examine your communication and assess if you are using the best tool for your messages. The best measure of the effectiveness of your communication is the response you get.

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