I Should NEVER Text – and Other Laws of Communication…

If it had only happened once… I wouldn’t be writing this post. But it happened TWICE in 3 days time. I wrote a quick text message to be sent from my work computer to Timi. (My wife for you newer readers) I hit “enter” to send the message and went on with my business. It’s a regular way to stay connected while I’m working, or bounce ideas off of her, or ask a quick question. But TWO TIMES this last week, I sent a message intended for my wife to women I am not married to!

The first time was bad enough… the message intended for Timi suggested that we do some brainstorming about our perfect world picture as we are making some exciting choices for our family and ministry. It read in part, “Let’s take some time to dream (again) about how we would design our lives and ministry if we could live according to our passions and convictions.”

In this case I immediately realized that I had accidentally sent it to a good friend instead of Timi. I quickly followed up with “Oops sooooo not for you. That was for Timi.”

We all had a good laugh and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But two days later, I was in my office and wanted Timi to come down so I could discuss an idea with her. I texted, “Come hither please.” and waited. She didn’t come.

It was an hour or two later when I realized that little message had gone to my good friend’s wife!!! The color rises in my face even now as I write! Fortunately, she’s a good friend too – as well as a good sport. But I will probably never EVER live that slip down!

Lesson? I Should NEVER text again! But of course, I will. And some of those messages will go to unintended recipients. In the Marriage Conversion University training module on communication, we share 5 Laws of Effective Communication. I may need to add a sixth law. That law would be, “Be sure that you are delivering the intended message to the intended recipient.”

Many times we get into trouble communicating because even face to face we say things in ways that might be perfectly clear to someone else but does not deliver the message we intended to the person we are talking to. How can we learn to avoid this? Well, let’s be realistic, we WILL send wrong messages from time to time (hopefully not as often as I did) but we can learn to do it less frequently by following 3 rules.

1. Be mindful when communicating. Instead of focusing only on our message and what we will say next, some of us need to learn to be mindful of the other party we are talking with. What are THEY saying? How are they saying it? What is their tone, facial expression or body language telling us? As we are mindful of these things, we become more sensitive to them and we can tailor our message to meet them where they are. (intended message to intended recipient)

2. Be prayerful when communicating. It’s taken time, but it is becoming a habit of mine to be praying for the person I am talking to and for myself that God will direct our conversation and my thoughts and words. I am delighted to report that I have seen the answer to those prayers in very positive ways over and over again. Try it.

3. Be present when communicating. This may seem obvious but it really isn’t any more. (If it ever was) How many times have you interrupted a conversation in the last week to peek at the new text message that just buzzed into your phone? Or to answer another call or respond to the kids or…  All right, so you’d better take care of the kids but I think you get the point. We are making it a habit in our home to ignore calls and texts and emails and Facebook while we are talking. It’s a decision to value one another.

Oh and by the way… it would seem that God deserves at least the same courtesy when we are communicating with him. Just a thought.

Try these rules for delivering your intended message to the intended recipient and let us know how they work.

 – Richie

Do you have Communication questions that you’d like us to answer? Share them in the comments below and we’ll answer them in a future post. Have thoughts about this post? We’d love to hear those too!

photo credit: Anne Worner via photopin cc

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  1. Tonya
    6 years ago

    I would have to say I fall into the 1. Category.
    More often than i’d like to admit, i’m thinking about what to say next, instead of processing what is being said. I’m becoming more intentional while listening as to what the real message behind the words are trying to communicate. Listening to understand, not to answer.