As one of the most socially awkward people on the planet, the Internet was a godsend for me. Finally, a way to express myself that I could edit before sending! When cell phones came along, I was fearful I’d have to actually talk to people again, but then texting became popular and thought all my problems had been solved. However, the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized there are some times when virtual communication just won’t cut it: The situation requires a phone call or even —gasp!—meeting in person. As a budding adult person, you need to be able to give a positive, professional image and resolve problems in a way that achieves results, so I have provided a few tips for accomplishing that.
1. Do not get angry with someone via text or email.
There are three main problems with electronic communication: a) phrases can be easily misconstrued; b) people are less aware they are talking to other humans and therefore are more fearless; and c) it can be saved as evidence. This is especially important in a business setting. The minute you think an email chain is going sour, give the person a call and be as cheerful as possible on the phone—you would not believe how quickly they will either change their tune (less likely to get snippy with a voice than a faceless email) or reveal a complete misunderstanding. Plus, you know that terrible pause after you send an angry message while you’re waiting for them to respond? Yelling is much more effective and time-efficient when done in person.
2. Do not get angry with someone via Facebook or Twitter.*
As much as I hope that you ignore this advice if you are Facebook friends with me, because that shit is hilarious, you should actually keep fights off social media. Things that you put on the internet are surprisingly permanent (Failbook is forever). You’re not going to accomplish anything by airing your laundry in public except making the other person madder and showing your acquaintances that you have the maturity of a child. This gets way more sad the older you get—like, I can forgive it with a teenager who is still understanding the concept of emotions, but what 30-year-old is going to get mad at me on the Internet? If you are a grown person and actually want to solve your problems, talk about it, or at least send a direct message. If you want to bitch, text your best friend. If you want everyone to laugh at you, then by all means, post it.
3. If something requires more than 5 texts or emails, pick up the damn phone.
My friend’s roommate liked a guy, and he liked her, but they were unsure of their relationship status. For some reason, they decided that the best way to talk about this would be over text. Guys, seriously, no matter how awkward this is, if it’s a complicated issue, it’s an in-person conversation or at the very least, phone. Again, tone is crucial in these conversations and can’t be conveyed over text, plus a phone call builds relationships that emails do not. This rule also applies to things like trying to decide on a bar for the evening—if you have sent multiple texts that still haven’t gotten the job done, just call.
4. Adults do not post thinly veiled “meaningful” things on social media.
I have totally been guilty of this. When I was 15. On AIM. The Get Up Kids were so deep!
5. No matter how painful, talk about things that are important—the sooner the better.
Your manager keeps calling you Kiddo. Your friend keeps talking about being fat, but you were anorexic and it’s a trigger. You discover you have HPV. You are an introvert and will go insane without more alone time in your relationship. These things are not going to go away on their own, and mean having hard conversations. People are surprisingly receptive, and I can almost guarantee they will go over a lot easier than however you are playing them out in your head. Make a Post-it of talking points if you need to. Look, when I get emotional or have a serious conversation, my whole body starts shaking like a Chihuahua (seriously), yet, I know that I won’t gain resolution without discussing the issue. If I can have serious talks while literally quaking in my boots like a 4 lb. dog, you can get through it too.
We live in an era of faceless technology, and while I gladly embrace it, I recognize that maturity calls for choosing communication methods wisely. I am not saying you can’t break up with someone over text (only a few dates? Sure!) or that talking is always better (why does voicemail still exist?). However, I am saying that as much you want to tell that stupid jerk to fuck off in text and then post a screenshot on Instagram, it’s better to take the high road and resolve your issues personally and privately. Take the time to build relationships rather than being a generic name on an email. However, if you do go the tantrum route, be sure to go big or go home.
*Jury is still out on expressing your undying love on social media. Personally, as long as it’s not excessively often or kissing pictures, the die-hard romantic in me thinks it’s sweet (plus, don’t we need more love and positive energy in the world?).
Share your tips (or the most heinous violations you’ve seen) in the comment section or tweet us @litdarling!
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