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Part of being a couples’ coach is allowing couples to replay their arguments and fights. This allows them to explain what frustrates them, and how they would like to see things be different in the future. But a new wrinkle has developed for me in my coaching ministry over the last year or two. As of late, I don’t just get the replay, I get the transcript.

As one person is kind of explaining to me the gist of the battle, the other says… “You want to hear exactly what she said? I have it right here in my texts…”

Then, I spend the next several minutes hearing the litany of texts that buzzed across the angry air waves during the worst of the fight. It’s as though they assume reading these texts will help me get the full picture of what was going on during the conflict. And I understand that logic. Yet, I will never have the full picture from those texts, and neither will they.


While those texts may serve as some sort of historic record of their fight, they don’t get close to touching the emotion that motivated the conflict. It’s simply words, often hurtful words, on a digital page—a very accurate he said/she said that represents a very small part of the big picture. Using texts and emails to communicate important personal messages is a bad idea because they so easily strip out the human elements of a conversation. There is no body language, no eye contact, and no tone of voice to help you interpret what’s being said.

[bctt tweet=”Texts and emails leave out the most important part of the conversation–the human element.”]

That’s a real problem, because words by themselves are extremely subjective. With more than three meanings per English word (on average), and far more potential meanings when phrasing and sentence structure come into play, mere words often leave extremely broad room for interpretation. Those human cues that I mentioned before like tone of voice and body language are the very things we use to objectify words. We often know how to make sense of what a person is saying by how they say it. But texts, emails, and IM’s don’t give us anything to go on when it comes to interpreting messages.

Oops… my mistake… we have emoticons. That’s what digital communications have reduced human emotions to. Wow.

[bctt tweet=”Let’s face it… emoticons are becoming the new way of communicating emotion. Scary.”]

I myself am very guilty of this texting instead of talking thing. My wife and I recently had a disagreement, and I, being the spiritual pastor, servant/leader, and perfect husband that I am, lost my temper and told my wife exactly what she was doing wrong via text. As you might imagine, this added a special and profound blessing to her already stressful day. I might add, I was texting from a device that also has the ability to make person-to-person voice telephone calls. I chose the impersonal route instead.

Why do we do this? Why is it so much easier to shoot off a text instead of having a conversation? Maybe it’s because we’ve become impatient, and aren’t developing the capacity to wait for the right time and place to have difficult conversations. Maybe it’s easier to say things when we know we won’t have to face the response unless we want to. Or perhaps it’s because our culture continues to encourage us to deal with problems in less and less personal ways. Who knows? What I do know is that I fully support a resurgence of face-to-face, eye-to-eye, person-to-person communication. I believe our world would benefit from a little less texting and a little more quality conversation. We could do with fewer emails and more sit down meetings. Technology is great, and we should use it to communicate when necessary… but why not try in person first?

After all, isn’t a real smile better than : ) ?


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[bctt tweet=”Isn’t a real smile better than : ) ?”]


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