Ok.  How did the title of this post affect you?  For most people who are tech savvy, they heard me screaming at them.  Isn’t it amazing that we have developed such intricate interpreting skills when it comes to the written word?  Most people think that they are quite competent when it comes to understanding the true meaning behind every text, email, or other form of digital media communication that we read.  However, it seems like a month doesn’t go by where I don’t have a client in my office who is there in large part due to a misunderstanding in the written form.  For example, an email sent to a co-worker or boss that wasn’t proof read before being sent, a Facebook post that was a momentary vent about a spouse became a world wide declaration of their incompetence, a comment that was supposed to be sarcastic was texted to a friend and it was received as a matter of fact and now they won’t respond, or one of the worst, sending a sensitive or derogatory email to the wrong party (it’s almost impossible to recover from this last one).  Technology is awesome isn’t it?  It can help us in so many ways.  But, it can become a problem when we rely on it in ways it is incapable of or wasn’t designed for.  Expecting it to translate the true meaning and intent behind our communication is impossible.     Expecting others to be able to understand what we “meant to say” rather than what we actually said can also be a problem.  I tell people constantly, “digital writing is for information transfer only.”  Things like, “what times does the movie start?”or “where are we meeting?” are perfect for written communication.  On the other hand, attempting to clearly communicate in writing to a guy friend how you feel about his friendship (when that is all you want from him) when he clearly wants more from the relationship than just being friends gets complicated very quickly.  In marriage, even when you have been together for years, this can be a common source of problems.  Don’t assume that your spouse will be able to interpret your written words exactly the way you meant them.  If you have any doubt about whether a topic might be interpreted wrong, pick up the phone or wait until you see them in person.  The few extra moments it takes to do that can save you lots of heart ache, may improve your relationship, and maybe even save you some expensive therapy billsJ.

Challenge:  Every time you send something digitally this week, ask yourself if it is simply information transfer or if it contains something that could be misinterpreted or could cause problems if the wrong person read it.  If it is the later, communicate in a more traditional manner, face to face or by phone.