Does Texting Affect Emotional Intelligence? Digital Communication Stands in the Way of Face-to-Face Communication and Interpersonal Relationships

Article excerpt

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.--George Bernard Shaw

B @ mtg b&e Wed. C U @ 9

No, this is not a new programming language or a secret code in some clandestine society; it is a sample of communication sent through texting.

When the message is translated, it says, "Be at meeting bright and early Wednesday. See you at 9 o'clock."

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There's nothing wrong with texting if your objective is to communicate quickly and informally. In fact, it has become the preferred method of communication for kids and young adults.

With the rise in the number of people texting, however, researchers are finding that overtexting is contributing to a significant decline in the quality of communication in the workplace.

Email, thought by many to be the first cousin of text messages, is equally impersonal. Although email often is longer in length by comparison, both methods have led to decreased civility, compromised interpersonal relationships, and even aggression. It is ironic that email has the potential to be more thoughtful, yet it often provokes the opposite tendency to be immediately reactive.

Up to 93 percent of communication is conveyed in tone of voice and body language, while only 7 percent is conveyed in words. With those statistics, it is no wonder that digital communication can be misinterpreted or be offensive inadvertently.

The appeal of digital communication

Researchers say that digital communication is not just for efficiency. It is a way to communicate with protection. Texts and emails allow you to hide your tone of voice, facial expressions, and feelings. You also can avoid dealing with the feelings of others. In comparison with traditional methods of communication, digital messaging is superficial and keeps a distance between you and others.

It is well known that humans are social animals, so perhaps it is not surprising that the use of emotional icons (emoticons) has increased in tandem with the increase in digital messaging. These begin as punctuation marks to portray a person's feelings and can include numbers and letters. Maybe it's just our human reaction to satisfy a need to express emotion.

There are still psychological and physical consequences to digital communication. One psychological consequence is the over-reliance on digital messaging, which can compromise the ability to develop the emotional intelligence skills associated with interpersonal relationships.

People who rely on digital messaging do not learn to exhibit, or read, the emotional cues that aid in understanding one another. …