4 Tips for Communicating Effectively in a Texting World

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New York, NY—We all know that convenience costs more: convenience stores carry overpriced merchandise; convenience foods carry health risks; and convenience communication can lead to a complete breakdown of real, human relationships. There are ways to buck the trend toward convenience communication and connect with the people you’ve been missing.

Why Emoticons Won’t Cut It

We’re downright addicted to pasting in an emoticon instead of expressing a real emotion, and posting a social media message without considering who it might offend. Just as cheaper and more convenient food tempts us to eat more of it, quick and expedient communication choices encourage us to take the easy way out.

If you feel like you’re making more conversational mistakes today, you’re not crazy. We are making more mistakes. We’ve taken something that’s fundamentally imperfect—communication—reduced the time we spend thinking about it and increased its frequency. It’s a hot mess. We owe it to ourselves to restore balance to our communication diet.

Status Updates in Moderation

Fast communication isn’t all bad, because many of our messages can and should be handled quickly. And, slow communication isn’t always the answer, because we’d run out of time to handle essential tasks if we obsessed about every message that comes our way. A balanced communication diet includes both expedient and more thoughtful communication practices. We just need to re-balance our conversational consumption to ensure that thoughtful and meaningful interactions remain the foundation of our communication pyramid.

Tips for Being the Best Communicator

Here are the four essential ingredients of a balanced communication diet:

1. “Slow cook” your most important messages. A great deal of our communication can appropriately be handled with fast communication. A quick email answers a colleague’s question about the XYZ account, a text message informs a spouse that we’re going to be late, and a Facebook post and picture lets our network know that our daughter lost her first tooth. In the midst of all this fast communicating, we risk eroding our ability to communicate slowly and deliberately. Many of the things we want our communication to accomplish—like persuading a client, providing emotional support to a grieving friend, asking someone out on a date, resolving a workplace conflict, or arguing an important point rationally—require slow and thoughtful communication practices.

There aren’t any prepackaged solutions for persuasion, conflict resolution, emotional support, bargaining, and effective arguing. They all require the ability to thoughtfully and intentionally use your words to accomplish your objectives—which takes longer than expedient communicating, but is essential for succeeding in more challenging encounters.

2. Stop talking when you’re full. It’s easy to get to a point where we know that we’ve had our fill of emailing or texting for the day—but we keep right on talking, piling on the errors and feeling increasingly bloated with each message.

Take a break when your smartphone is overwhelming you. You’re doing more harm than good when you’re sick of sending and receiving messages, but you continue doing it. Your breaks don’t need to be lengthy—a few minutes are often enough to clear your head—for you to get refocused and reenergized to tackle your inbox. Push away from your smartphone or laptop when you’ve had enough. The only things you’re going to miss while you are away are the mistakes that you’d be making.

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