We have all heard “watch what you say.” I can’t say with certainty but I’d bet my mom was the first person to say it to me.
We all know that once something is said there is no way to “unsay” it and the effects of one ill timed comment can last a very long time.
So, most of the time anyway, we are careful with the words we choose and the tone in which we say them. Sometimes we are so “careful” that we decide not to “say” words at all, we write them.
There was a time, ages ago as I recall, where we found some paper and something to write with and we took the time to really write out our thoughts, on paper, and then in one fashion or another, deliver the paper to the intended person.
Oh, the good ol’ days!
I think the time it took to find the paper, find a pen or pencil, address the letter, and mail it saved us a lot grief. That time allowed us to really consider our words, to carefully think about how our words might “sound” to the person reading them.
Today, we can zip off an email in literally seconds. We type out the first thought that comes to mind and let ‘er rip! Email, and even worse, text messages, have become a “damn the torpedoes, full stream ahead” kind of communication. We write what’s on our mind, exactly what’s on our mind because we can.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be honest in our electronic communications, what I am saying is that they should be written exactly as if you were going to read it to the person face-to-face. That thought alone would slow a lot of us down.
We need to realize that even our writing has a “tone” and that “tone” is very often misunderstood by the person reading our message. It would also help if we accepted FULL responsibility for our message and didn’t lay blame on the other person for misunderstanding us.
Push yourself to be a better communicator. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself how will they interpret my message? Use many of the same verbal communication “rules” you use today. Don’t always say the first thing that comes to mind and don’t say it when you’re angry.
If you think it would be a bad idea to say it out loud then you should also realize that it is actually even worse to put it in writing. People might only hear you say something once but they can read your words over and over and over.
Which brings me to my final point. Don’t be a chicken writer! Don’t use email, and for heavens sake, don’t use text messages for difficult conversations. Deliver tough news in person where the other person can feel your empathy.
Parts of you, the real authentic you, often has a hard time escaping your writing. No matter how good your writing skills are they will never be as good at delivering your message as you will be in person.