The Art of Miscommunication

In the last few years, the written word has gained increasing importance in how we connect and communicate with people. As we rely on writing over speaking because we all have come to hate phone calls because… reasons. And because we also don’t live in a TV world where friends decide to meet up to chat about the most mundane and vital of topics, we are left with text messages, instant messaging, emails, etc. The problem is we can be terrible at saying what we mean.

Our words carry a weight we rarely recognize as we carelessly toss them into the air or pound them out on keyboards and screens. I previously wrote about why our words matter. We are so caught up in getting what we think our message is out of our heads that we forget that the reader may not understand what we meant to say. We don’t ask ourselves, “Does this convey the message I’m trying to say? Is it confusing? Am I leaving out any details that may be critical to being truly heard? Is it unintentionally hurtful or spiteful?”

As someone whose personality aims to take his time to think and reflect before he responds to people, I have tried to be more conscious of what I should say or if I should say anything at all. I firmly believe every word we choose carries weight. Those words that seem to us to be flippant, throw-away phrases that may bear little meaning to us can incite a reaction that is altogether not what was intended.

In our rush to speak up and interrupt our friend who’s trying to talk, we say something that’s uninformed and unhelpful. In our desire to blurt out what we’re thinking, we forget we bear some responsibility for how our words are received. That onus is not only on the receiver; the messenger takes responsibility too.

I’ve seen this unnecessary strife and internal frustration, confusion, and pain. It’s caused friendships to end, for relationships to stumble, for people to consider their worth and to think about changing career and life paths completely. I ache when I see this happen around me and even more so if something I’ve said has inadvertently created hurt.

Recent history and social media have amplified how critical it is for us to be wise with our words. That applies to the most famous and vocal to the least known and quiet among us. Think deliberately about what you say and how you say it. Each word leaves an impression on the world. Make them good ones.