I can’t tell you how much healthy communication comes up during therapy sessions. As cell phones have gotten more popular, people are making less phone calls and using texting,snapchat, and hang outs more and more. I have had clients come in telling me they had to set a clear boundary with a family member and that it did not go as planned. When we looked at how the message was communicated, I initially went to the original offenders, such as not using I statements, not using blaming words, or raising of the voice. None of these were the cause of the unclear communication. Instead, it was the raising of the cell phone. Unfortunately the communication piece and the texting/messages type of communication often get really entangled which can leave people feeling angry, frustrated, anxious, and a bunch of other emotions. Texting is not a form of clear communication. In fact, it is the easiest way to misinterpret peoples’ tone, words, meaning, and you are totally missing out on a huge cue, body language.
Although I mention this to clients over and over, I am not immune to the texting communication phenomena. For example, I feel like I disappoint my sister a lot. One of my previous indicators of knowing I disappointed her is when she responds to my texts with only the words “ok.” At that time, I never bothered to use such a great communication skill, clarification, to find out if my belief was true. One time I was in the car and due to another great tech invention, my texts go through bluetooth so when the audio read her text it sounded like an exciting, happy version of Ok! This was a lightbulb moment for me that my sister’s texts of ok were not meant to be negative and confirm for me that I disappointed her again. This further led me to wonder if my thought behind them was also inaccurate. Since then, I did clarify with my sister and found out that the reason she texts ok instead of okay or anything else along with it is it is quicker. It is two letters instead of four…. imagine that! I spent all this time reading into her texts messages, which activated my internal thoughts that I was disappointing her and she disproved this in one quick conversation (not a text message). Now when I get her texts that say ok, I smile and remember what I put myself through. We all do this. The point is remember that cell phones are good for many things, but can also interfere in our communication and connection with others. Take a chance and if you have something you need to say to someone try to put the phone down and say it verbally. You may find it easier to express your needs and wants and your message may be better received. Ok!