From the time we start talking, we develop tendencies and habits with our communication skills. As the development of online communication blossomed, we all started to take advantage of the immediacy of these new methods. One of the potential pitfalls of this sort of communication is that it is SO immediate, we can be guilty of speaking too soon and (more likely) too much! There are a few little tips you can keep in mind the next time you sit down at your keyboard. These won’t keep you entirely out of trouble, only you can do that, but they should help you filter some of the unnecessary and potentially hurtful things out of your words.
First and foremost, don’t be so quick to blast someone for something that was said. While I tend to over-evaluate things, in my mind, this break can be a great way to “slow your roll” and really evaluate if what was said was really so bad. More simply, it could give you a chance to get a good night’s sleep and look at the situation with fresh eyes and a fresh cup of coffee.
Right along with that first one is never send messages when you are angry. More often than not, these emails and/or texts make things worse and almost never make the situation better. Our decision making skills are clouded and our “filters” tend to fall right off.
One of my favorite techniques here is to reach out to a friend. After a recent, irritating encounter with someone, I stewed on it for a while and (thankfully) reached out to a close friend to let off some of the steam and get a fresh perspective. It was one of my better decisions. Not only did the conversation validate my feelings, but it gave me the chance to vent a bit, which was really all I needed at that time.
Lastly, and certainly not the most easy thing to do, is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This is not always going to be the answer, but in many cases it helps to imagine what they might be going through. I find this works when I’m annoyed at another driver or another person in the grocery store. We never really know what that person is going through and it is incredibly helpful to slow yourself down and remember that we all have our “stuff” we’re dealing with. Give folks a chance before you immediately assume the worst.