A guide to effective communication in the age of social media
With text messages, Facebook, Twitter and all the other forms of social media, it seems we are getting quite efficient at communicating. But with social media communication becoming the norm, it seems we are losing that personal touch, where the warmth of voice is lost and replaced instead with an emoticon smiley face. ;-)
You've heard the stats.
According to A. Barbour, author of Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Communication, the total impact of a message breaks down like this:
- 7 percent verbal (words)
- 38 percent vocal (volume, pitch, rhythm, etc.)
- 55 percent body movements (mostly facial expressions)
So, how does this all work into the new generation of social media? How do we keep up with the changing of the times and yet still continue to keep that loving feeling that one on one connections can create?
We are all for written forms of communication. If it weren't for people being open and vulnerable with their virtual words; friendships, discussions and issues may never be created or addressed. It's just that we can get so lost in the e-world that we forget there is a real person with a real heart and real feelings on the other end of the line. Or we forget there are real people right next to us, longing for some quality time.
We get that times are changing and most likely this trend is here to stay, but we believe there has to be a way to make new trends work with our lives, yet keep the traditional ways of getting together one on one as well.
So consider this your Guide to Effective Communication in the Age of Social Media. We aren't asking you to put the texting away (OK, sometimes, yes), but if you can at least keep these tips in mind, perhaps we can all get back to nurturing and developing our relational one on one skills.
There is such a thing as oversharing
Some things are meant to be personal, so spend more than a hot second before you post/tweet/text, and consider all the people who are about to read your fleeting thoughts. Is it necessary? Will it hurt someone? What is your point you hope to share? Does it need a smiley face?
Not every thought and every action you make needs to be put out there. Consider your 140 characters wisely. And remember the old saying, "Some things are better left unsaid."
Always follow up
Sometimes it's easier (and safer) to share our hearts, thoughts and lives via text/email, but it can be even easier for what you've shared to be taken the wrong way or to accidentally hurt someone. A good tip is to always follow up so that you are sure your point was taken the way you meant it.
Who you are in print should match up with who you are in person. It's so easy to present yourself as someone who has it all together, but we all know there isn't a single one of us who really does. So, be real. Be true to who you are. Be the person online that your friends and family know you to be in real life. There's nothing quite like the letdown of meeting someone from the 'net in real life and finding out they really aren't who they pretended to be.
In matters of the heart,
get heart to heart
Sometimes it's easier (and safer) to say when we're hurt or angry in a text or email, but in that we lose the ability to really show our emotions and be vulnerable. We miss out on being able to see the other person's heart when hearing ours, and in that, we can sometimes make something into an issue much bigger than it ever needed to be. So, when it comes to sharing your heart, we suggest putting down the phone and actually getting heart to heart. Or at the very least, if writing is your best way to say it first, then immediately after go back to rule number two, and follow up. In person.
Make new friends, but keep the IRL (in real life) old ones
Now that we have the ability to keep in touch with everyone we ever knew or could possibly know all the time, it's easy to forget the friends we actually know and are here right now. As with everything, it's all about finding a balance. While it's fun to make new friends and connections, we must never forget the ones we have that need us now.
Know it's OK to put the electronics away and live the life you've got
One of the most challenging things to do when it comes to our beloved electronics is to actually put them down. For longer than a minute. Remember that this life you are living goes far beyond the virtual world we stare at and live in all day. So, put the phone/computer down sometimes and actually invest time in your hobbies, friends and family.
Perhaps even go a step further and capture the moments in your heart and head instead of snapping and posting pictures of "What an amazing time we had!" Some things are sacred. Keep them that way.
Don't forget that we're real life people!
And here's the most important rule of all: We're all real life people with real lives with hearts and feelings. And, more than anything, we crave relationships that take quality time, effort and commitment. As uncomfortable as it may be to leave the safety we have in hiding behind the screen, try to take the chance and get out there.
They call them the good ol' days for a reason.