The Lost Art of Communication - Merit Educational Consultants

The Lost Art of Communication

Almost every time I get a text message, I cringe. I never seem to get enough information from the acronyms and abbreviations to respond in kind. A simple COMMA would really help me understand what they are trying to convey, and maybe just a few more adjectives or adverbs would give me a better feeling about their tone and sense of urgency. More often than not, I find myself wondering if the person texting me as happy, irritated, or simply bored. My long-winded texts are met with rolling eyes and exasperation. Whatever happened to good ol’ communication skills?

Everywhere I turn, I see people in conflict. Whether it’s in the workplace, with a family member, or in a social interchange, somebody is ALWAYS pissed off at someone. At first blush, it appears that the two parties simply disagree on the issue, but what I have come to learn with my near 6 decades of experiences is that this is NOT TRUE.  More often than not, the parties actually agree and have similar goals, but they get hung up on COMMUNICATING THEIR THOUGHTS to the other person.  Seriously, people don’t know how to write — or text!

Before we had the luxury of telephones, everyone had to pick up a pen and write their thoughts down on paper. This involved lots of writing between people of various socio-economic, religious, and gender groups. People thought carefully about what they wrote and the receiver often read the letters multiple times to fully appreciate its contents. Oh, the good ol’ days! Does anyone appreciate getting a letter on stationery?

The advent of the telephone, and then the cell phone, reduced the need to write letters because there was no need to wait days or weeks to send something by post when you could verbalize your message in a matter of seconds. This revolutionized communication because dialogue sped up the delays caused by the post. BUT, all of this progress has now taken a turn leading more and more people to become reclusive and avoid face-to-face conversations and phone calls at all costs.

What I find really odd, is that today, in 2015, everyone is texting messages to each other.  Not only is letter writing obsolete, people have succumbed to texting brief messages instead of calling one another. Having to wait for someone’s text response to communicate seems like it would be frustrating when you could call them directly to discuss the issue quickly. Even if you have to leave a message, the receiver will still hear your voice and get the gist of your message by your tone.  Not using the phone or having a face-to-face conversation, but entering a hand-pecked message using a tiny keyboard and a couple of fingers or thumbs seems like it is a step backwards in our tech-savvy world.

Trying to decipher a person’s tone or mood when they text 4-5 words is difficult.  Try interpreting this text message: “Running late C U later”. Is this person blowing you off?  Or is he going to find you and catch up with you? How can you tell if the person is being flippant or apologetic?  Using emoticons can help set the tone when the words used misses the mark.  Worst case, the receiver takes away the opposite meaning and is upset with you. Best case, they’re mildly annoyed with you because you’re not giving them enough information about the issue at hand. They’re second guessing you because your cryptic writing left them hanging.

Can we bring back complete sentences with well-thought out ideas?