Arguing in person can be difficult and emotional, but when people take their arguments to texting, the situation can spiral quickly out of control. Our post examines why it's important to avoid using text messages to argue with your partner. Our goal is to help provide tips on how to maintain healthy relationships and avoid the pitfalls of arguing over text.
Text Argument Cannot Capture Tone and Context
Text arguments can often be misinterpreted because you don’t have the ability to communicate things like tone and context. It’s very easy for unintended meaning to be discovered in a text message, and it’s equally as difficult to convey what you truly mean in just a few short sentences. This can easily lead to hurt feelings and confusion that could be avoided if the conversation was being held in person. The end result is often one, or both of you, feeling misunderstood and unheard.
It Spurs Haste and Polarizing Thinking
Texting also encourages hasty thinking, which can cause us to react quicker and more aggressively. This can also fuel a pattern where one reacts more aggressively and the other disengages. This pattern can ignite disconnection and isolation between partners. This often causes us to amplify our points of disagreement and make assumptions that aren’t accurate or true. With text messages, there is no way to convey the body language or facial expressions that accompany real-live conversations. As a result, it tends to focus the conversation on polarizing perspectives and can be especially damaging for relationships if people aren’t careful with how they communicate.
Delay With Succinct Responses
When conversations become heated over text messages it’s important to take a step back, delay responding, and respond with simple, concise responses. Be mindful of your word choice and avoid making prolonged arguments or inflammatory comments that could fan the flames. Longwinded communication often leads to deeper misunderstandings and further discord. Try posing questions instead of offering criticisms as this is less likely to cause an argument in the first place.
Create Ground Rules for Online Discussions
To ensure you and your partner are on the same page for online disagreements it’s important to set personalized ground rules. Have a discussion about appropriate topics, tone, language and timing for communication over text messages or other digital platforms. Agreeing to ground rules in advance can help prevent arguments from escalating out of control.
Reunite In Person to Resolve Contentious Matters
When disagreements arise it’s important to remember the necessity of communication — but that conversation shouldn’t necessarily happen over text. If an argument persists for longer than a few messages, it may be best to switch channels and continue your conversation in person. Facial cues and tone of voice can offer much more clarity and understanding than written words, which can often come across as too harsh or cold when read from a screen. The simple response of, “Can we discuss this in-person?” can help to prevent an argument over text from spiraling out of control.
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