We love to connect with friends and family, and technology has made that easier than ever. In a flash, you can text someone about a silly moment you are experiencing or post on social media a photo from your day.
Technology can also be used to say things that are hurtful, mean-spirited, damage reputations and destroy friendships. Many things are said online that would never be said if standing face-to-face. Sometimes hurtful comments are made on purpose, other times, comments are simply misunderstood. How many times has someone misunderstood you when you were sharing something in person? It happens all the time, and adding a smiley face at the end of a text does not guarantee the other person understands your comment. Communication includes not only the words you say but how you say them.
Before you grab your phone to send a text, consider what you want to say. Should your message be delivered by text, on social media, with a phone call, or face-to-face? Knowing the best way to communicate your message is essential.
Texting is like a Post-It note. Texts should always be positive and brief. A text is not the place to have a lengthy conversation. Look at your recent texts. Were they necessary? Positive? Brief? Here are a few examples of an appropriate text:
- I’ll be 10 minutes late.
- Hope you are feeling better.
- You looked fabulous today! Great color choice.
- See you at 3.
Don’t assume the person you are texting knows it is you. Always identify yourself when you text someone for the first time.
Social media is a great place to share things you wish the entire world to know about you today and 50 years from now. While making the most of your social media privacy settings is helpful, it is NOT a guarantee that your post is private. Always assume everyone can see what you have posted, and it will exist forever. Here are a few additional tips.
- Photos should make everyone look their best. Better yet, get the approval of those photographed first.
- Read your post out loud. Is it kind? Is your grammar and spelling correct?
- Never share anything private or embarrassing about others.
- Avoid posting anything when you are angry or upset.
Keep all your posts positive and a reflection of the terrific person you are. As tempting as it may be, don’t measure your worth by how many ‘likes’ you get. You are far more valuable than that.
Phone calls are a better choice than a text or social media when you want to have a real conversation. Why? You can hear the words the other person is saying, their tone of voice, and ask questions. Here are a few other reminders when using your phone.
- Always answer the phone with a smile and a greeting. Yes, smile! While the other person cannot ‘see’ your smile, they certainly can hear it.
- When placing a call, identify yourself. Don’t assume the other person knows who you are.
- Ask the person you are calling if they have time to talk.
- No answer? Leave a brief message.
- Lose connection? The person who placed the call should be the one to call back first.
Face-to-face communication is ideal for genuine friendships to flourish. Not only can you hear the words they say, but you can also see their reaction and respond appropriately. Did your comment make them smile, make them uncomfortable, or make them sad? Don’t forget the following.
- Make good eye contact.
- Think before you speak. Pausing is classy!
- Listen to understand – not for when you can start speaking.
- Ask questions about what the other person said.
Face-to-face communication is the best method to speak about personal or painful issues. In this setting, you can comfort a friend or simply give them the gift of a listening ear.
Before you reach for your phone to text, post or call, pause and consider your message and what the best method for delivering that message may be. When you do, you will be taking significant steps to cultivate a positive reputation as someone others can trust.
©2016 What Would Mrs King Do? If you would like to use this article in your newsletter or blog, you may do so. Please include our credit information: Written by Deborah King, What Would Mrs King Do? © Copyright 2016. I would also appreciate it if you would send us a copy for our files to [email protected]. If you would like to learn more about social skills contact Final Touch Finishing School, Inc.