Archive for message

The Modern Day Dear John Letter

The Modern Day Dear John: Telling of Character….or Telling of the Times?

I was watching a delightfully obnoxious sitcom the other night whose topic of interest was the inconsiderate break-up.  Not just any break up, but the curt, impersonal, less-than-40-characters one…you got it, The Text Break-Up.

My mind immediately time-warped back to that episode of Sex in the City when Big broke up with Carrie on a post-it note.  Ouch!  Has this level of disrespectful communication actually become acceptable outside of TV humor and inside of our real lives?  I decided to ask the masses. 

So off to Social Media I went, where I posted the question, “Is it ever ‘ok’ to break up with someone in a text?”  For days I received a barrage of opinionated answers spanning from Facebook and Twitter to emails and…but of course, texts.

Here’s what the majority of responders feel about the subject:

We live in a modern era where time is sensitive and brevity in communication is honored. Beyond a generational thing, most people from pre-teens to housewives and from the small business entrepreneur to the Wall Street mogul prefer sending, reading and receiving messages using brief and direct methods including these we discuss here.  We live in the tell-me-what-you-want-and-don’t-waste-my-time era. These practices are widely understood, accepted and generally cool…No Big D.

Until it becomes personal.

Most folks became a bit heated (and some downright enraged) when they gave my question some introspection. It seems there was initial agreement that there may be circumstances where, says one Facebook friend, “…courtesy may not be required,”…like “if you have a restraining order,” says another. In fact, there were a few reasons (from 10% of the responders) that felt YES, given the circumstances below; it is ‘ok’ to break-up with someone in a text.

  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Stalking
  • Adultery
  • Pre-teen/Teenager

But what if none of those circumstances apply and you thought things were coming along nicely? You had a good rapport, perhaps even a relationship.  What if there had been a considerable amount of time invested…is it THEN acceptable to give the Dear John message, out of the proverbial blue? 

These words were tossed about from the 90% whose impassioned response was of the “no way, no how – it’s never ‘ok’” opinion;

  • Cowardly
  • Immature
  • Disrespectful
  • Ill mannered
  • Thoughtless
  • Ignorant

To be super clear on the math, while 10% of the responders had been able to justify texting the demise of a relationship due to extenuating or unsafe conditions, only 1% of those had said [paraphrasing], “Eh, whatever.”

What’s the communication lesson in today’s story?  We all accept that we want ‘quick and easy ‘, but when it comes to the human component of emotion, trust and love, most people still feel as if taking the time to have the actual conversation is worthy and respectful.

Communication is at the crux of our society, if we cannot effectively exchange positive messages, we find fewer successes along our path.  Exercise thoughtfulness, compassion and consideration in each of the words you choose. If you know your message is going to be hurtful to someone, take the time to deliver it in person…or at the very least, on the phone.

90% of you think it’s “just the right thing to do.”

Watch Your Words on Valentine’s Day

Today is the day of hearts, roses, teddy bears and chocolate.  Oddly, people choose these ways of expressing their thoughts and feelings without giving much thought to the words they use. In fact, overuse and desensitization has taken the luster out of this holiday’s most common Sweet Nothings.

On this, as on any day, choose your “love” words carefully and say exactly what you mean.  More importantly, you want to carefully discern the messages that others are sending your way – they may not always be the messages you’re hoping for.

Be on the lookout for the message behind the masked signal.

5 Red-Flag Phrases on Valentine’s Day:

1.       Is that what you’re wearing?

2.       Oops I forgot my wallet!

3.       Let’s take that table in the darkest corner – I don’t want to run into my Ex.

4.       Mom’s been so depressed lately; it’s cool if she comes along, right?

5.       Really, I like the gift…but I’ll take the receipt too.

5 Red-Flag Phrases on Any Day:

1.       You’re not really my type but I’m trying to expand my horizons.

2.       It won’t happen again – I’ve switched my meds since then.

3.       We’re divorced but still live together…”for budget purposes”.

4.       I’ll be able to drink again when the antibiotics have run their course.

5.       Wow our server is really hot.

Top 10 Questions That Kill the Mood:

1.       What’s your name again?

2.       Hey is your brother around?

3.       You sure that’s the right size?

4.       Whose underwear is this in the glove box?

5.       When do you think that pill will kick in?

6.       Are you done yet?

7.       You’re done already?

8.       Who told you it was okay to put that there?

9.       You think they make an over-the-counter cream for this?

10.   It’s okay if I post this on Facebook, right?

What is Stealth Communication?

Effective communication should be unencumbered by bullshit or games or difficult temperaments, as so many personality types have a tendency to exercise. It should be a clean, crisp and direct message that cuts right to the point.  Wasting time and effort on “fluff” may make for a great English Lit assignment submission, but it’s not going to serve toward getting your intended message to the receiver in today’s world of Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers, whether you’re writing it or speaking it.

Where, then, do I get the correlation between “communication” and “stealth”?

By Wiki’s definition, the word stealth is a noun meaning;

  1. the attribute or characteristic of acting in secrecy

“Stealth-like” communication, much like an arrow would cut right through the air in one straight path to its directive, is the practice of getting directly to the point with your message.  In fact, the word stealth itself eludes to a sense of “no-nonsense” as if it creeps up on you and before you realize it. You want the person you’re speaking with to get your message without seeing it coming, without anticipating what they THINK you’re going to say, and without formulating a response in their mind before your sentence is out of your mouth. In other words, without all the crap that gets in the way of them understanding what you really meant to say.

Stealth also means;

2. in such a way that the actions are unnoticed or difficult to detect by others

They say that in order to achieve any great change or improvement, practice is the best strategy to making something become a habit.  As with any learned or improved skill, getting better at communication involves the practicing of new techniques.  Using power-phrasing, diffusing difficult people and finding new ways of painting a verbal picture all help people to understand you better… but the extra effort you put into turning these skills into habits should not be what people notice.  The only thing people should notice is that they “get you”, right away, every time.

Additionally,  […and here’s my favorite concept about communication…]  The word “stealth” itself  is such a juxtaposition of terminology in the sense that it’s a word typically used to describe very aggressive or testosterone-driven endeavors.  I think the idea of using it to describe a woman who is unafraid of being strong and powerful is just delicious….equaling the concept of using “assertive” (female) communication techniques rather than aggressive (male) ones.

What does “Stealth Communication” mean to you?

Communication Breakdown

The Theory of Communication states that the cycle of expressing and understanding a message occurs at four intervals;

  1. Encoding occurs when the sender determines how to send a message.
  2. The sender then conveys the message either verbally or nonverbally.
  3. Decoding occurs when the receiver interprets and determines its meaning.
  4. The response in which the receiver reacts to the sender happens last.

Social psychologists estimate that there is usually a 40-60% loss of message meaning between sender and receiver. Can you imagine? That means that about half the time we think we’re being clear with our messaging, someone else doesn’t agree. According to the steps above, there are four different places within the communication process where a misstep or a ‘break’ occurs. It’s a wonder any of us are able to converse at all!

How many times have you screamed in frustration because someone JUST DIDN’T GET what you were saying?