'Virtual communication has become the primary way many people in our modern world interact with each other. Social media platforms, emails, and texts are all at the forefront of this technological phenomenon. Behind screens, our abilities to communicate effectively with others has faltered at an alarming rate.
If you or your loved ones struggle with effective communication skills due to modern technology, read on. You will learn when and how to be assertive in your virtual communication. Also, you will discover 9 ways to be more assertive in your social media, emails, and texts.
This post on How To Be More Effective In Your Virtual Communication is part 4 of a 4-part blog & Periscope series. Assertiveness 101 was covered in How To Be Assertive & Why It Can Help Your & Your Family. Part 2 pertained to helping adults learn to be more assertive in their everyday lives, as well as the 4 typical approaches to a situation. Part 3 discussed how to help our kids be more assertive.
Points To Always Remember In Your Virtual Communication
The number one point to remember when considering your virtual communication is that your typed words can last forever. Once you type and hit send, your thoughts and feelings are out in cyber land. Take extreme care when contacting others via virtual communication.
Collect your thoughts and feelings prior to typing. Picking up a pencil and jotting down your words on paper can be a significant help in preventing negative words, connotations, and misunderstandings. For some reason, seeing your words on paper causes you to pause and pay greater attention to what you are trying to communicate.
Do not type anything that you would not want that individual, their friends, family, co-workers, friends of friends (see where I'm going with that!) to see. Texts, emails, and posts are copied and pasted every day. Bottom line: do not write anything that could be misinterpreted or cause harm to anyone!
Learn your lingo! Do not use acronyms or abbreviations that you do not know what they mean. Do not use slang words or phrases that you are unfamiliar with-when misused, they can cause hurt and upset.
When To Be Assertive In Your Virtual Communication
In the first three parts of this series on assertiveness skills, I shared what it means to be assertive, how to use as an adult, and how kids can be more assertive. These same skills can, and should, be applied in our virtual communication with others.
You may wonder when you will ever need to use assertiveness skills in your virtual communications. Certainly not for every day chats with friends and family? Usually not, however, you may be surprised when being assertive is necessary.
Think about your emails, texts, and any social media post that you have read in the past week. Do you recall feeling hurt or offended by any? Did you blow these feelings off rather than dealing with them?
Did any of your received email or text messages leave you feeling bad about yourself or angry at the other person? Perhaps feelings of anxiety or overwhelm kicked in with demands or expectations?
When you feel uncomfortable to the point of distress, it is time to determine if assertiveness skills need to be applied to your virtual communication.
How To Use Assertiveness Skills In Your Virtual Communication
Here are more ways to be effective in your virtual communication that you can add to the assertiveness skills previously shared in the first three posts of this series.
1. Ask For Clarification
If you do not understand a sender's question or comment, ask for more details. Do not overlay their message with your own thoughts and feelings. Ask-and ask again if needed- to make sure that you grasp what they are trying to say.
2. Don't Read Between The Lines
Do not inject your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences into their message. Misinterpretation of the written word is so easy to do. Without facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, you are left to your own devices to determine what the sender truly means. When in doubt, do step 1-ask for clarification!
3. Take Time To Respond
Wait to send your reply. Sleep on it-or at least take a bit of a break-before responding to their comments. If you have been hurt, offended, or upset, it is always best to step back and look at the entire situation. Do not rashly jump in with a response. Get grounded and respond with care. Chill out with some calming music. Take a walk outside. Have a dance party with your kids. Do whatever you need to do to calm down and gain perspective.
4. Write Out Your Response
Again, writing down your reactions to their message is a helpful way to sort through your thoughts and feelings. Step back from your notes and look at the big picture.
5. Inquire Within
Ask yourself if your reactions are realistic. Do you have a valid reason for thinking and feeling the way that you do? If you are not sure, consult a trusted friend or family member to help you determine if you are on the right track or need to reexamine your reactions.
6. Read Aloud Your Typed Response
After you have typed your response, take a moment to read it aloud. Listen to how you say the words. Are there intense feelings or thoughts that could trigger a negative response? Did you accurately describe your reactions? How did you let the other person know that you were offended? What did you ask them to do to rectify the situation?
7. Say A Prayer
As a Christian, I believe that it is important to consult God on all matters, especially relationship issues. Bow your head and say a prayer. Ask for His guidance and wisdom on the matter. Take time to hear God's message and react accordingly.
If you have different views, a time of meditation can be used wisely to figure out assertive responses in your virtual communication. Find a quiet spot and reflect upon the situation. Talk to reliable friends and family for advice, if necessary.
8. Put Yourself In The Other Person's Shoes
All too often, empathy is forgotten in such problematic situations. Tap the pause button and walk a mile in the other person's shoes. Consider why they may have contacted you in such a fashion. As hard as it may be, truthfully look at why they responded to you in such a way. Think about their thoughts and feelings when you create your assertive response.
9. Hit Reply & Have No Regrets!
If you took the time to do the above steps, you have worked hard at forming an effective virtual communication response. Send your reply and move on. Know that you have acknowledged both their thoughts and feelings, as well as your own. Be proud of the fact that you strived to be respectful and considerate with their situation while standing up for yourself.
With emails, texts, and social media posts blasting their way through your day, you will most likely run into situations where you are upset or offended. How do you typically handle this type of negative virtual communication? How will you these skills to be more effective your future virtual communications?