Love, Self

5 Relationship-Saving Reasons To Wait 10 Seconds Before You Hit 'Send'

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technology smartphone texting text

From texting to posting on social media, technology has made it too easy to communicate our feelings, especially negative ones, instantaneously and publicly. This leads to careless and often toxic conversations with no filters and a lot of anger, heartache and can ultimately harm your relationship, causing it to unravel.

So how can you stop yourself from turning a bad situation into an even uglier one?

The best thing to do if you’re having a negative conversation or even a full-blown argument with someone over text is to take a moment, count to ten, and then see if you still want to send that text. Yes, that one, with a lot of unnecessary capitalization and too many exclamation points and spelling errors to count.

The same goes for social media. You can always post later, once your emotions cool down.

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Waiting to send a text might seem like a simple thing, but in the heat of the moment, it can be incredibly difficult not to just lash out in anger. Pausing while you’re upset is beneficial for both you and the person that you’re mad at — but when you’re up in arms already, it can be a battle of wills that you’re likely to lose.

Still, it’s an important skill to develop in any situation, even if you’re not just texting someone. When tensions get high, it’s important that cooler heads prevail. So take a second to figure out just why those ten seconds are so very precious when it comes to preserving your relationship with the person on the other end of the line.

Here are five reasons to count to 10 before you hit send:

1. Once you put it in writing, you can never take it back.

The recipient may hold onto your message for future use and or as ammunition. Are you ready to live with the consequences of what you said?

2. Was your response triggered by elevated emotions?

Were you feeling down, irritated or stressed when you received that negative text or email? Why not respond when you are feeling more positive and calm? 

Neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, says that "Emotions only lasts in our bodies for 90 seconds. After that, the physical reaction dissipates, unless our cognitive brain kicks in and starts connecting our anger with past events."

3. Do you know the whole story?

Can you give the other person the benefit of the doubt? We all have bad days. Or pick up the phone and ask to talk more about it. People often reach the wrong conclusions when they quickly read a text. Can you focus on the positive aspects of your relationship with this person?

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4. Remember: Loose lips sink ships.

My husband has quoted this slogan, "Loose lips sink ships," to me so many times that it has become one of my mantras. 

It originated in World War II and warned against speaking of ship movements, which might be heard by enemy agents and lead to the bombing of U.S. submarines. It sent a loud and clear directive to U.S. citizens and the military to refrain from careless talk.

It still holds true for today in many ways, and it's modern counterpart "Loose Tweets Sink Fleets" serves as a message to avoid careless dissemination of information over social media. 

Try to walk on the side of caution with your written words!

5. You are responsible for your own behavior.

Do you WANT to lose your temper? Why not count to 10 instead? Thomas Jefferson said, "When angry, count to 10 before you speak. If very angry, a hundred." Many psychologists and anger management experts believe that is still worthwhile advice. 

Dr. Dan Johnston, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia says that “'counting to 10 before taking action works because it emphasizes the two key elements of anger management — time and distraction."

The next time you feel angry or hurt and start to fire off a careless or negative text, pause, let the emotion pass and/or count to 10.

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Ellen Kamaras is a Life and Organizational Coach whose specialties include: relationship coaching for singles, individuals seeking to reinvent themselves, empty-nesters looking for new purpose and fulfillment and individuals who want to get “unstuck” but are afraid to take risks.