Misunderstanding Written Communication: texts, emails and handwritten

This link connects to a thought provoking short post a friend of mine reposted.   https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/the-trouble-texting

Various studies attribute similar enough percentages of sources of “meaning” in communication, and my clinical and personal experience have led me to a strong rule of thumb.  It’s quite challenging to follow, but if you do, you’ll never know the trouble and pain you’ve avoided – and that’s the point. I’ve spent 30+ years living with and learning from a very good writer [full disclosure – my wife, Peggy Payne, is a NYTimes Notable Book of the Year author]. Most of us can’t/don’t exercise her clarity of writing. And still, readers naturally interpret her novels in very different ways. In , we understand that one’s personal experience and personality are deeply involved in how we interpret both what we hear and what we read.

So I tell myself and my clients Not to discuss important emotional issues by text, email or handwriting, because about 90% of the time the reader thinks they understand what has been written, but they actually understand only about 50% of the time. It can help to write out one’s views about complex issues between people, but unless the conversation happens up-time in person, with all the body language and analogical markings [auditory: volume, intonation, pauses, intensity, etc], the back-and-forth misunderstandings can increase geometrically. often severely disrupting otherwise manageable relationships.

I think real intimacy is both the prize and the risk in talking through personal differences.  The inevitable, scary vulnerability of  considering up-time, in spoken words important clarifications of difficulties is likely a major factor when we avoid such discussions.

Let the sender and receiver be wary of written exchange about important personal differences.   Dr Bob

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