The Joys and Sorrows of Electronic Communication

I love the ease and immediate response emailing and texting afford you. For me, emailing is great, I am a very fast typist so I can shoot out a message in no time responding to many more emails in one sitting than I can return phone calls. Texting is short, sweet and to the point. Texting keeps me and my best friend completely apprised of each other’s days. These two things definitely have their benefits and certain times that they are acceptable or appropriate. However, they also have their byita moments as well. Byita: bite you in the arse.

Let me start by stating that there are certain circumstances when an email or text will just not do. No one’s communication should consist of only electronic communication – they are missing out on so, so much! Nuances, true meanings and well, good old human interaction! The downside of electronic communication is your message can get lost, diluted or just completely turned around to byita. Oh yeah and if you have automatic word filler-inner on your texting it can be worse. Let me give a few examples to illustrate my point, because I’m a talker and that is what I do.

The filler-inner issue: My best friend was texting with her daughter who went home sick from school. My friend sent a text which was intended to read, “Let me know if your dad gets called in for work.” Simple enough, right? Wrong! I don’t know what kind of weird program her phone has but the text that was sent using the filler-inner was, “Let me know if your dad gets naked for work.” Completely different meaning, and well, ewww! If the daughter wasn’t sick before she was now!

The lost/diluted meaning issue: Your boss sends you an email asking about the status of a project and you shoot back, “I’m working on it.” This could go so bad so quickly. What if you meant to say, “I am all over it and it is coming along really well!” but your boss took it as “I’m working on it get off my arse, it will be done when it is done.” You just never know how someone will take your message – therefore it is better to be as clear as possible and choose your words carefully to paint the appropriate message.

The byita issue: I have a sparring partner. This is a friend who is as sarcastic, argumentative and competitive as I am and every once in a while we enjoy a bit of a volley back and forth through texts. This is all well and good and normally fun is had by all. Normally. Here’s the issue, I’m a talker, when asked about my stance on some things I require a different forum because I am a talker. I need to see or hear the other party’s reactions to ensure my message is received and if there is uncertainty I can make an immediate correction. It is difficult for me to explain in short concise 140 character format my entire explanation and I don’t do it well. Not at all in text world. Let’s put it this way, I do that as well as I do giving or receiving driving directions. Yep, that bad. Can you see the train wreck coming? I’m even worse if I am tired. Tired and Texting: bad, bad, bad. It is TNT and can blow up quickly. Get it Tired N Texting=TNT, yeah, okay, little too cute, sorry.

So anyway, I was trying to explain something but messages were misunderstood, capital letters and explanation points started being thrown out there, I used the word “jackass” in the most kind and playful manner (however it wasn’t received as such…) and it got ugly. We were no longer attempting to understand each other messages we were throwing arrows and deflecting. Sigh, I should have known better than to try to utilize an inappropriate format to relay a meaning. So for this it is a bit uncomfortable sitting in my office chair this morning for the big bite that has been taken out.

I’ve always said I don’t learn my lessons easily, never learning from a smack on the hand – oh no, not me, I’ve gotta have life blind side me with a two-by-four right upside the head! My point today is to do a little preventative maintenance for all of your instant texters and emailers – Stop! Think! Walk Away! Re-Read! Revise!

Take a moment to re-read what you are about to send and ask yourself, how can this be construed? Is my meaning clear? Is it truly what I want to represent me at this point? How would my grandmother interpret it? By the way, my grandmother was the queen of guilt trips so she is my good reference here, she could take an innocent statement and make you feel guilty for days about it! Would it be better to spend a bit more time and just pick up the phone or pop in your boss’s office just to make sure your message is received correctly? Sometimes a little extra time saves a whole lot of headaches, and arse-aches.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.

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