Family, Self

How To Text With Care

For many couples, texting has become a primary form of communication. Relationships begin and end by texting. Hurtful things are impulsively sent over text. Loving messages are sent. Requests for the grocery list or dinner are quickly communicated. We are getting more and more used to using texting to talk rather than actual talking. In fact, if a teen client tells me they were talking to someone last night I have to clarify if it was on the phone or via text because they will call texting “talking.” Communication Skills: Back To Basics

The trouble I have seen is that because a text is impersonal, there seems to be a disconnect that happens in how people use texting versus how they would talk to another person face to face. I have also seen that because our phones are so conveniently close to us at all times, we sometimes pay more attention to them than the people we are with. It is important to remember that texting is still communicating and there are ways to do it that can reduce discomfort for yourself and others.

Remember that not everyone is available to return your text immediately. Many people will get angry or discouraged when they do not get an answer to a question right away. We have to be mindful of the fact that the person we are trying to get information from may have something going on that we don’t know about. This is not the time to get angry with them because you feel as though they are neglecting you by not getting back within minutes. Facebook Friend Requests: Dos And Don'ts

On the other hand, do try to respond to texts you receive as soon as possible, even if it is just to say, “Hey, can’t talk now, get back to you later.” It eases those anxieties and lets the other person know where things stand. While there are those who are comfortable with and even enjoy lengthy conversations via text, it is generally best to keep messages short. Save the longer conversations for actual phone or in person talking. We are too quick to misconstrue what is communicated through text and shorter messages are less likely to set you up for misinterpretation.

Be very careful who you are sending your texts to. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me they were moving fast and they clicked on the name above or below the one they were intending and being in that automatic zone we get into with the steps of technology, they shot the text off before even realizing what they were doing. Your mother does not need to know what you are saying to your boyfriend and your boss does not need your grocery list. 8 Ways To Console A Grieving Friend (That Will Actually Help)

If you are texting someone who may not have your number in their phone’s directory, be sure to identify yourself. It can be disconcerting to get a text that just says, “Hi!” and have no idea who it came from. When you are out with other people or at dinner, leave the phone elsewhere. When you are with someone and texting another person, the first person can feel ignored and as if they are not important to you. If you are waiting for an emergency call, let them know this ahead of time. Otherwise, put the phone away. Leaving your phone sitting on the dinner table sends the message that you are waiting for someone more interesting to contact you and that you are not fully present.

It may go without saying, but please, do not text and drive. You may feel that you are aware enough and adept enough at both texting and driving for it to not be a problem yet accidents happen daily because for that one brief second, someone took their eyes off the road. We eat, play our radios, scroll through iPods, change clothing, apply makeup, talk on phones, adjust our GPSs and so much more that leaves us vulnerable on the road. Let texting be one thing you don’t add to the list of distractions. What Can Help You Cope With Stress

When at a movie theater, resist the urge to text through that boring movie you got dragged to. The other people in the theater may actually be enjoying it and the blue light glowing out of your lap is a distinct distraction. When asked multiple questions in one text, make an attempt to answer or at least acknowledge each question. If it will be too lengthy, go ahead and just call the person to respond. When questions are missed, it can leave a person feeling as if you decided their question was not important.

It is easy to use a phone to text all of the angry feelings to have toward someone else, especially a spouse you are arguing with. Remember that you are not with them to see the impact of your words so you may not understand at the time how frustrating it can be for someone to get a stream of increasingly angry texts.

Be willing to wait until you are together or can actually talk on the phone to address the issue. Waiting is hard, but the pain that is caused by assaulting someone via texting lasts much longer. If the phone is too much of a temptation in your anger, try hiding it from yourself (I always recommend the refrigerator because it seems so silly). Sometimes out of sight really can help calm the mind.

As our technology improves and new and fun devices and ways of communicating come about, we will need to continue to update our etiquette. For now, try to think through your choices and how they might impact someone else. As soon as you think about the needs of others, you will already be a better texting friend.

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