Here are a few things I have learned about texting as a relationship coach.
1.You should not make decisions or write those decisions in a text message when you are upset.
2.You should be VERY slow to respond to text messages when you are angry.
3.Your own mood will determine how you imagine the other person’s tone of voice as you read their text.
I can recall countless episodes of sitting in my office with a client who insisted I read a series of back and forth text messages between her and her boyfriend.
In most of these situations they were not asking me for advice. Instead, they were looking for validation. Validation of the intense feelings of frustration with a boyfriend who was in a full fledged emotional blame game with them.
In many of these situations, a quick read of the first few text messages revealed the problem.
I’m talking about the snowball effect of misinterpretation. Just one misunderstanding early in the text-conversation causes a splintering of perspectives. Almost like you and your boyfriend enter parallel dimensions, or alternate universes.
The context of a statement is misunderstood, but neither person realizes the misunderstanding has occurred. As a result, both parties continue the conversation under differing sets of assumptions about the other person’s thoughts and motivations.
The Text Message Land-Mine
That creates a land mine just waiting for one of you to step on. Because neither of you remembers having set a land mine, you both launch into a blame game fueled by frustration.
It’s amazing how often people overlook the possibility that simple miscommunication has occurred. And it’s because emotions (both positive and negative) can severely skew the way we interpret written messages.
The lack of vocal intonation, facial expression, and other nonverbal clues creates a much larger range of possible interpretations for written words compared with in-person communication.
There is a solution to this common problem. But first, let’s look at a real-life example of the problem as it unfolds.