Text fights are so tempting. After all, your phone is always with you, while your partner (or whomever you're fighting with) might not be. I can't tell you how many times I've had a flash of anger, drafted a text, and then hit "send" before I could stop and think. While it's not necessarily bad to pick a fight over text, it might not always be the way you want to communicate angry feelings. If you're looking to stop yourself from picking a text fight, I have some expert tips for you.
If you're picking a fight because of a text you've received, it can be helpful to stop for a moment and make sure you fully comprehend the original text. "Before you respond, pause and ask yourself if you understand the text for sure, if you are confused about what they are trying to communicate, or if you are unsure of the intention or tone," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Clinical Psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Elite Daily. "Don’t respond on a guess — pause and make sure you understand." Taking an extra moment to reread their text might help you get a bit of clarity. Perhaps you misconstrued their message, or there's room for multiple interpretations. It could be helpful to ask them to clarify what they meant, as well. This doesn't mean you can't later let them know if the text made you feel bad, but it does decrease the risk of a fight over miscommunication.
One trick can be to read texts aloud before sending or replying to them, experts say. "Read the text message you receive out loud if at all possible," Dr. Klapow says. "Reading out loud allows you to inject some level of inflection and emotion and may help reduce mental biases we have when we read the text silently." Often, something sounds different out loud than in your head, so hearing the words may help you. This doesn't mean you can't then send the text message you originally drafted, but it could help you understand how your text is being heard by others. This way, you'll know if you're sending the message you intend to convey.
It can be useful to keep track of what assumptions you're making about their tone, as well as what assumptions they might be making about yours. Tone and body language are helpful for figuring out what another person means, but you don't get to use either of these over text. "Assume that you cannot understand tone or inflection from a text," Dr. Klapow says. "While might be clear to you what they are trying to say, you don’t know for sure from written phrases." Additionally, you should be careful about whether or not they'll know what you're trying to say without your voice or body language to help them. "Assume that whatever you write will also be not fully interpreted correctly," Dr. Klapow says. If you're considering picking a fight because you believe the tone of their text is unkind, you may want to consider talking to them in person or over the phone to get more information.
If you're already in a text fight, it might help you to move the fight out of text messages. "Stop texting back and forth," Dr. Klapow says. "Try to shift from text to phone by saying something like, 'Can we talk this out? It’s hard to communicate via text'." This way, you'll be able to hear their voice and explain yourself without having to type out everything you mean. Texting is a valuable form of communication, but there's also room for confusion that is sometimes solved by speaking in a different medium (IRL, Skype, FaceTime, etc). If you'd like to get out of your text fight (which you don't have to do — it is OK to fight over text), you can try asking the other person to speak to you verbally.
Fighting via text is completely normal — I've done it many times myself. Still, there are pieces of information that can be lost in translation over text, so you might want to sometimes stop yourself from picking a fight. You definitely don't need to beat yourself up over picking a text fight — it's totally OK to express frustration via text. Still, in times when you are looking to avoid a fight, these tricks can help you. No matter what, it's always OK to communicate how you feel. You deserve to have your emotions understood, so whatever communication tool makes you feel heard is the right one for you!
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