Over the years I have seen many relationships ruptured because of careless communications in email, texting, and social media. It is sad, because it is so avoidable.
It says in James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
In other words, it is important to think before you communicate difficult things.
The technology that allows us to connect with more people in less time is amazing. We have greater potential to meaningfully connect with others than ever before. This is a good thing. But if this powerful technology is used without wisdom it can be disastrous.
I have seen people scar relationships, wound reputations, spread confusion and misinformation, through unwise communications. I have seen people lose their jobs because of things they chose to air out in a text or on social media.
So here are some words of wisdom that can help you avoid a texting, social media, or email communications disaster…
- Assume that anything you communicate electronically can go public. Why? Because it can go public, especially if you have communicated something hurtful. Furthermore, it could go public by accident. Someone can click the wrong button and now it has been sent to their entire address book. You don’t want that if your communication is sensitive. It is best that whatever you put in print is something that you would not be embarrassed to say in public.
- Don’t express anger or sarcasm in written electronic media. This can be very confusing and very hurtful. If you have a need to work through stress in a relationship, it is best if you will work it out in person. Too many people think texting their mess will be easier, but often it only makes the problem more complex and harder to fix.
- Be cautious about using ALL CAPS in your communication. This is not good. All caps have the impact of screaming. That may be how you feel in the moment, but do you really want it on a message file on someone’s phone?
- Don’t say hurtful or negative things about people through electronic media. You are the one that ends up looking bad. Furthermore, you hurt people’s reputations in unfair ways. I have often seen someone unfairly trash someone on Facebook. Then all that person’s friends jump on the bandwagon. But most of those people know nothing of the situation. What an awful mess. Perceptions in people’s minds might never be corrected by the truth.
- Be cautious about sharing your most disturbed thoughts electronically. Everybody has dark thoughts or emotions at times. But to flesh that all out on Facebook is unwise. Share these kinds of things with a trusted friend over the phone or in person. But don’t text these things or place them for the world to see on Facebook. Not everyone will understand your heart.
- Don’t slam your boss, co-workers, or subordinates in electronic media. This will only show you to be immature and unfit for the job you have. If you have a grievance with someone, go to them privately. Never take it publically or push it out in electric media where it can go viral. I have seen people lose their jobs over this one.
- Don’t send confidential information electronically unless you know it is secure. I’ll let you determine what you think is secure. But this should just be common sense.
- Always proof read your communications before you push “Send.” Typos or Autocorrect functions can sometimes really get you in trouble. I have developed the habit of reading every email, text, or post at least once before hitting “send.” I don’t always catch every mistake, but I have avoided a lot of embarrassment over the years by doing this. It takes more time, but it is worth it.
- When you need to communicate difficult things to someone that would violate some of the above principles, instead call and communicate over the phone or in person. Sure this might be more difficult, but it is worth it. Relationships matter. They are the stuff of life. It is worth working through issues in a healthy matter.
- When you are drafting an email, text, or post on social media, imagine that it will be posted on a billboard on a major thoroughfare in your town. I know it probably won’t, but it is a good exercise to go through. It can help you think twice about what you will say on electronic media.
Question: What are some other things you can do to avoid the pitfalls of electronic communication? Help the rest of us by sharing your ideas. You can leave a comment by clicking here.