Have your ever received a text that made you feel upset, angry, or confused? Maybe you sent one you wished you could take back. If so, you’ve experienced how texting can distort meanings and damage communication. Face-to-face communication is always best, especially when explaining important information. As a rule for good communication, therapists recommend you never try to say these things through a text.
1. Insults or complaints about someone’s behavior. Texts are quick, and many times we rethink what we should have said in person. No one likes hearing about the things they did wrong, and it usually leads to defensive behavior. Wait until you’re in person to talk about feeling disappointed or upset by something your loved one did.
2. Explanations or long apologies. If you need to apologize, tell them you’d like to meet and say it in person. It will mean lot more to hear you’re sorry face-to-face, and it says more about your character and sensitivity.
3. Heavy topics or blindsiding someone with important news. Telling a loved one about a terminal illness or how someone close to them died should be done in person. This sort of news is shocking; therefore, being sensitive to how it may affect someone else is important. Heavy topics should be reserved for a time when you can sit down together and discuss options.
4. Private sensitive information. Credit card numbers, intimate photos, or anything else that violate privacy should be done in person when you both are there to give their permission.
5. Anything said to you in confidence or that you wouldn’t want others to see. If you send an unflattering text about someone or reveal a secret, it’s important you understand that someone can take a screenshot that will be shared with many. Your text could hurt others and make you look bad.
For many, sending a text is the easy way to express yourself over an issue you may not be comfortable saying in person. However, texts distort meaning. Even if you don’t know what to say in person, showing up and being willing to face the matter one-on-one says a lot about you. When in doubt, send a text and ask the recipient if you can meet and talk about an issue you’d rather not say in a text. It shows the person on the receiving end that you respect them and is an indicator of someone who is emotionally mature and sensitive.