I totally get it. Texting is so much easier than having to look someone in the eye and wonder how they’re going to react. But – and it’s a big but – texting actually makes conflict worse. Here’s why:
1. People act all kinds of crazy. When you’re holding a piece of hardware in your hands and not looking someone in the eye, you say stuff differently. So does the person you’re talking to. Throw any amount of anxiety, panic, anger or fear into the mix, and people start writing things they don’t mean. They type impulsively. They don’t think. Have you seen the movie “Alien” when the monster explodes out of that dude’s stomach? It’s kind of like that. Okay, not exactly, but you see where I’m going with this.
2. Thanks for the memories. That girl (or guy) you fought with might save the text fight you had. Now she can whip out the phone whenever she feels like it and remind you of your temporary digital insanity. Do you love the features on your phone – like the camera and the MP3 player? Well you’ve got another one: it’s a little grudge machine.
3. Bring it on…and on….and on. Thought your fight was one-on-one? Not so much. She just forwarded what you wrote to her people, who are now on your back. You can never be sure what someone will do with what you write. Once it’s out there, anyone can see it.
4. Say What? So much drama starts because there’s no way to really know what someone means. Capital letters, emoticons, exclamation points, abbreviations and the holy trinity of jk, lol, and hahaha get confusing and weird. You’re already pretty anxious when you’re having drama with someone online. You see what you want to see and often interpret the worst.
So what to do?
1. Step away from the phone. As in, put it down and walk away. I have actually done this and it works. If you can’t do that, give it to someone you trust and take a walk. Breathe for two minutes and think about what you want to do.
2. Be smart & strategize. Don’t lose your head. Think: what are the consequences of getting into it with her on the phone? Is it worth it? Think it through and do the math. What’s going to happen here? What could you do instead?
3. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t send it. Don’t type anything that you wouldn’t say to her face. If you need to, read your text out loud so you can really see if you’d say something like that.
4. Suggest an alternative. Instead of taking the bait, why not respond with something like, “Can we talk about this tomorrow at lunch?” Give her a time and place. Or how about this: just call her.
There’s not a human being on this earth who hasn’t used her fingers to express her feelings. Okay, maybe there’s one. I hate her. She’s probably really pretty and skinny, too. Point is, we all do it. Forgive yourself. Just keep in mind that too much of anything is never good. If you get too used to texting, you won’t develop the psychological muscles to express yourself with confidence and power. That’s the kind of person you’re fabulous enough to be, and that I want you to become.