I recently read an article where the writer was bemoaning the fact a text message led to a misunderstanding and she didn’t meet up with her friend. She admitted she only skimmed the text but said ‘the fault lies in the form of communication’. This made me think about the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of communication.
Firstly, I think it is up to the person wishing to make contact with another person to choose the most appropriate form of communication. One then needs to carefully pick the best words to convey the message. Even with careful thought it is possible there will be a miscommunication.
I find text messaging useful, especially when arranging to meet someone. There is a record of the time and place for both parties to refer to. When you arrange things via a phone call there is no written record. Sometimes it is difficult to hear on the phone especially if one or both parties are in a noisy place or a location where reception is poor.
Text messages can be read when it is an appropriate time. Yes, misunderstandings can occur especially when abbreviations are used or you hit a wrong letter or two. Predictive text can produce some ‘interesting’ results. It is a good idea to check a text before sending it, but I guess we have all been guilty of failing to do this.
Email can be useful too. Again, this form of communication can be read when the recipient has time. Emails are handy when you want to pass on specific information or it is the early hours of the morning when you have the time to communicate. They provide a written record.
A letter is a lovely way to communicate. It is a nice feeling to hold paper that has been in the hands of the writer. However, there is the disadvantage of the amount of time it takes for a letter to reach the recipient. Sometimes letters go astray or take a long time to arrive at their destination. I recently sent a letter to a friend who lives 400 kilometres away. It took over two weeks to reach her. I was interested to read there were three postal deliveries a day in the cities in the 1930s. Letters would have reached their destination more quickly back then.
Phone calls have the advantage of allowing you to hear the other person’s voice. Sometimes the tone of someone’s voice lets you know their mood. You have the to and fro of conversation and can ask questions immediately. As long as the reception is good and both people speak clearly you have a good chance of avoiding getting your wires crossed.
When circumstances make it possible to meet in person, this is a great way to communicate. As well as hearing the person talking you can pick up information from body language. Facial expressions are helpful. People with hearing difficulties may pick up some communication from lip reading.
Being in the company of someone you have a bond with makes a day special. There is nothing like spending time face to face with a good friend, talking, laughing and joking together. I like this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, American aviator and author, ‘Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.’
We have a choice of communication methods and each has its advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the person conveying a message to chose the method they feel is best under the circumstances. They need to express themselves as clearly as possible. The recipient needs to check they have interpreted the message correctly if they have doubts.
No matter how careful one is from time to time there will be a misunderstanding. I remember a friend of my mother’s telling the following story. This lady had an accent. She had put in an order over the phone with her butcher who did deliveries. When she unpacked her order she was surprised to find a lamb’s fry which she had not ordered. She rang the butcher who said, ‘No that’s correct. You said, “The liver (deliver) as usual”’