There is a reason that electronic communication backfires when it comes to communicating big issues – there is no context of the non-verbal cues we use to communicate. You can’t see facial expression. You can’t hear voice inflection. You can’t see body posture.
When we communicate using just the typed word and not the spoken word, we are missing part of what is being communicated.
And let’s be honest, the prevalence of electronic communication has emboldened us to say things to one another that we would never say face to face.
The political warfare, belief judgment, and hate speeches waged on Facebook would never happen at a dinner table conversation. And often, these “conversations” begin with one person giving a seemingly innocuous comment, with the purpose of intelligent debate, but without the important non-verbal cues, and even more important relationship factor, these conversations become divisive and hurtful.
I think that this freedom of speaking without context and relationship has spilled over into our face-to-face conversations as well. We don’t think before we speak. We assume that our opinion needs to be voiced and heard by everyone. We don’t think about how our words have the power to hurt and to heal.
But that is the thing. Our words have the power to hurt and to heal. And we need to be mindful of that every time we speak – whether with spoken words or typed ones. We need to be aware of how our words are coming across – both verbally and non-verbally. We need to be aware that people will carry our words with them – both hurtful and healing.
I want to make sure that the words I speak are always edifying and building up. It is hard. Sometimes I fail. But I want what people take away from me to be healing and uplifting. I don’t want them to carry away words that tear them down and hurt them.
As you speak today – at work, in your family, through e-mail, on social media, via text – speak words of healing, hope, health, and edification. And if possible, do as much in person as you can, it makes a difference.