How to text better

Texting and messaging is an interesting topic for one simple reason: It’s a completely unnatural way for humans to communicate.

For as long as we’ve had language, we’ve mainly communicated in one of two ways: Dialogue or monologue.

Dialogues, whether between two people or more, tend to follow a simple pattern:
I say something, the other person(s) say something, then it’s my turn again. And conversation tends to focus on one topic at the time.

Monologues tend to follow an even simpler pattern:
I speak at my audience, and they listen.

Texting is very different.

So how does texting work?

In its purest and simplest form, texting should follow the pattern of the dialogue.

But, it’s very easy to fall out of that pattern. And when we do, the quality of our communication suffers.

You see, since there’s an inherent delay in texting, something interesting tends to happen:

Person A might send a message, and in the time it takes person B to read it, think of an answer, write that answer and send it – person A has had lots of time to have lots of new thoughts.

Sometimes that leads to person A sending another text with supplementary information. Which forces B to pause, read, and process that, and potentially have to start writing a completely new reply. This, in turn, gives person A even more time to think and type even more info.

Alternatively, person B will first answer the first text. Then write a second text for the second one they received.

When people do this we often end up with conversations where one or both parties use multiple short messages to give information. And this, in turn, often leads to us talking about several different topics at the same time – and/or interrupting the other person’s answer as they type.

Since this is an unnatural way for humans to communicate (you wouldn’t do that when talking to someone face to face), we tend to do one of three things:

  1. Ignore most of the information we get and focus only on the first or last piece.
  2. Prioritize whatever information feels most important, or that we have an emotional reaction to, and ignore everything else.
  3. Read and re-read all the individual messages and compile a long answer – which prompts further waiting and thinking on the other person’s end, and which can quickly escalate into conversations so convoluted and filled with information on various topics that all hope of rationality disappears.

Ok, so I’m exaggerating a little bit on that third one. But you see what I’m saying, right?

Written text is not new to humans, and generally speaking it fits our natural forms of communication well.

But the ability to send bite-sized information in real-time is fairly new. In the worst case, this leads to poor communication, misunderstandings, and frustrations.

When it’s important for us to communicate well with those around us, whether it’s in a professional or personal setting, loss of information is a huge downside. And a loss of information is what we get when communication gets too disjointed, convoluted, complicated or overwhelming.

How to get good at texting.

The good news is that there’s a very easy way to avoid this potential downfall and text like a master.

Simply treat texts like you would treat an email or a conversation.

Write down what you want to say, give it a quick read-through to make sure you included everything you want to say, and send it. Then – wait. Let the receiver read it, process it, and reply to it.

You wouldn’t keep interrupting your friend or coworker while they started to answer you if you were talking to them face to face.

You wouldn’t keep sending emails to add information if you could put all the information in the first one.

And you wouldn’t talk about more than one topic at the same time.

So don’t do these things via text.

Once you follow this simple rule, you'll be able to communicate with people via text almost as well as in person. But remember, since we don't have much sub communication available to us via text, it does have it's weaknesses.

Still, it can both be a good tool to nurture new friendships even during the current pandemic, and to connect deeper with people you already know.

And as an extra bonus, you won’t drive your friends crazy by making their phone beep and vibrate 20 times when once would have been enough ;)

Want to learn more about texting? Take a look at this YouTube video I made about how to make text conversations last longer.

Hi, I'm TJ Guttormsen.

Since 2009 I’ve coached clients ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaires, to people who simply want more out life.

I’ve done over 100 national media appearances, published books, and created online courses that have earned several “Highest Rated” titles from their 11 000+ members.

Today I coach clients from all over the world, and teach seminars for business and events from my home in Las Vegas.

Come join me in my Facebook group, follow my Instagram, or subscribe to my YouTube channel for fresh content on a regular basis.

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