McConversations? by Jennifer Ferryman

Photo credit: Philip Dygeus ( via / CC BY-NC-ND

Within the last hundred years, communication has evolved.  Where the typical method of conversation was face-to-face or by letter, one was more likely to be more pensive and thoughtful in what was said and how it was said.  Not only have the available devices changed, but society, at large has obviously moved from “charm schools” and manners to “swag” and crude language.

Not all transformations in this communication evolution have been bad.  Where time spent with friends and loved ones may have taken days to achieve, today Skype, email, and social media allow for access at the touch of a button, instantaneously.  This can be a tremendous benefit….and a detriment.  Our fast-paced culture demands everything in a fast-food mentality.  We want answers NOW.  And we can dispense with a necessary in-person talk.  We sit comfortably on the sofa, hidden by a cyber screen, and type or text and snack on our chicken nugget conversations.

To have healthy communication, a variety of factors contribute to the effectiveness of thought:  tone of voice, body language, timing, observed time for thought, and coherent groupings of words.  When one texts or emails, all but the letters and sentence structure are absent.

Remember the 1980’s Wendy’s commercial? “Where’s the beef?” Many times without consciously doing so, we interject our own tone, intent, meaning, and assumptions behind the words.  If we have had a bad day or are tired, that can be coupled with a loss for context behind the message.  And this is only the receiving end!  It’s possible that the sender meant nothing behind words that seemed to convey irritation, but many times, when we send a message, we can become a little bolder, a little less concerned for how our typed thoughts could be perceived.  Then there are those who can be downright hateful when using messaging.

What’s the point to all of this?  Haven’t we all heard the ads “Texting can wait.” The message is intended for driving while texting (which is bad), but I would argue that for the disagreements, venting frustrations, and outright sniping, texting (or emailing, tweeting, etc.) can wait!  Very rarely does anything good come from arguing where so many factors to healthy communication are missing.

 Pause and consider these simple tips:

~Whenever possible choose careful timing to have a discussion where opinions may disagree.

~Leave personal emailing and social media to positive conversation.

 ~Text brief, informational messages. (i.e. “On my way,” or “Can you grab some        milk?”)

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