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When Text isn't Enough

Cara Martens
Cara Martens Thursday June 10, 2010
<? echo $type; ?> When Text isn't Enough

I try not to over-analyze emails and texts, but I admit there are times I’ve over-reacted because of one word or phrase that I thought meant something it didn’t.

Brain research has actually shown that the front and back of the brain have different functions, but operate simultaneously. One part looks at the objects in the environment (in this case, the words). The other part looks at why things are happening or the meaning behind it– which is much more subjective and open to interpretation.

This explains why it can be tricky to correctly “read” communication through Twitter, Facebook, email and iChat. Our brain knows it’s missing key information.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true for all types of communication!

Every message has 3 different parts.
1. The actual WORDS we say
2. The TONE in which we say it
3. Our NON-VERBALS (facial expression, body posture, gestures and actions)

Did you know that studies show we pay attention to:
o 7% of what people actually say
o 38% of their tone when they say it and
o 55% of what their body language says?

With some technology, we have to guess at tone (the reason people like me over-use the smiley face) and body language, since we can’t actually hear or see the person “talking” to us. That leaves us with just 7% to go on. No wonder it’s tough!

This is making me rethink what should minimally be a phone call (so they can hear my tone) or preferably a face-to-face discussion even through video chat, so that we are set up for less misunderstanding.

Can you think of a time this was a problem for you? What can we do as leaders to send and receive messages well?

Cara Martens can’t help but read, write and dream, so becoming the 252 Basics Creative Director and main researcher for all things Orange is a perfect fit. She taught for a decade in schools and led teams in creating experiences for the church. Cara and her husband, Kevin, are schooled daily by her five- and eight-year-olds on how kids learn best.