Think before you text
Here's why you shouldn't text your argument:
If there's one thing I've learnt from the numerous text wars I've
engaged in it's that you should always argue and apologise in person.
Texting is designed for small, simple exchanges that require little
emotional input or tricky communicative components, so attempting to
have a heated discussion simply will not work. Even if you have to sit
on your hands or have your phone taken away from you, you should always
avoid creating or engaging in text arguments! Here's why:
*Texting lacks nonverbal cues
According to a study conducted by the author of Silent Messages Dr.
Albert Mehrabian, only 7% of how we communicate is verbal. This means
that a massive 93% of communication is nonverbal, be it facial
expressions, vocal elements, gestures or one of the many other forms of
body language we use in face-to-face conversation.
When we argue via text messages or social media we are not equipped
with all the tools we require to engage in valid, constructive,
uninterruptable discussion. Plus, no matter how much you attempt to
explain how you feel, complex emotions can rarely be conveyed genuinely
or with impact through a screen. This is why texting can often lead to
misunderstanding and will repeatedly make the situation a lot worse than
*Texting is a lower form of communication
When it comes to conflict, texting is just one step up from simply
ignoring a conversation and disappearing off the face of the Earth.
A study conducted by Brigham Young University found that the
frequency and topics of texts you share with a significant other could
actually determine the quality of your relationship. After questioning
300 participants, all of whom where in committed relationships,
researchers asserted that most couples either use texting for
'relationship maintenance' or to argue. They found that men who texted
their partners often also thought their relationships were of lower
quality. Jonathan Sandberg, one the studies' authors, suggests that this
may be because texting is less significant and lacks more information
than face-to-face communication.
"Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occur more quickly
face to face," Sandberg says. "There is a narrowness with texting, and
you don't get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see."
*You're missing out on meaningful exchanges
If you are afraid of conflict then texting may seem like the perfect
solution to dealing with difficult subjects. It's easy to feel less
vulnerable, even safe, when there is physical distance between you and
your recipient but this also means there is a lack of sincerity and
compassion that would be present in real life exchanges. Chances are you
or your recipient is also not paying complete attention to the
discussion, rendering it even more pointless.
Shunning face-to-face conversation and opting to hide behind your
phone or computer like a keyboard warrior is a tactic psychologists
refer to as 'avoidance'. Instead of dealing with the problem
constructively or learning how to beneficially navigate conflict, you're
probably making it worse by evading any meaningful, in-person contact.
*There is never a happy ending
When we can instantly send anything and everything that comes to mind
we begin to lose touch with social norms and forget consequences.
Particularly for those who feel powerless in their relationships,
texting can feel like the ultimate easy solution they can use to assert
YourTango specialist Julia Spira is adamant that she has never seen a
text-based argument end well. "When the anger brews and escalates,
usually a long-winded text message won't resolve relationship
conflicts," she says. "This reactionary behaviour puts you in a digital
Text wars almost inevitably devolve into displays of disrespect and
crossing boundaries. It becomes a game of who can make their point the
clearest and who can make the most impact, which often involves being
needy, tedious, rude or nasty. If worst comes to worst and the text war
results in bitter, unresolved feelings its possible that your messages
will be shared with others.
*What are the alternatives?
To avoid allowing your thoughts, ego or fingers get the better of
you, you must simply ground yourself outside of the digital
communication world. When you feel that a discussion is necessary or you
have been sent a argumentative text message ensure you are the bigger
person by making that difficult phone call or schedule a meeting.
If your recipient doesn't respond then it's clear that they are only
willing to argue on their terms and do not actually have resolution in
mind. Or they're just a total wimp who's too cowardly to say what they
mean to your face, in which case who needs them?
(Siobhan Harmer is a video game, coffee and travel lover from
England. Although she is the human equivalent of a sloth Siobhan
sometimes writes things, most of which you can find on her blog There
You Are Sibby.)