By Alecia Rice –
Q: My best friend and I got into a huge argument while texting about something mundane. Now she’s not talking to me, which makes me confused and sad because I didn’t say anything wrong. What should
I do? — Sore Thumbs
A: Dear Sore Thumbs,
Unfortunately, it’s my understanding that this scenario happens in epidemic proportions. Texting is a convenient way to communicate short specific things like saying that you’re on your way or specifying when and where you’re going to meet. At the same time, texting can rapidly turn ugly if you’re communicating on a sensitive topic, especially if you’re texting with someone whom you don’t trust or have had personal issues with in the past. Text messages eliminate a myriad of cues that the conversation is starting to go awry, even when using emojis.
I’d encourage you to reach out in a personal way by calling your friend to clear things up. While she may not answer, you can leave a sincere voicemail telling her how much you miss her with an invitation to meet for coffee so you can unravel what seems to be accidentally bound up here. When there’s been a disagreement, the highest form of communication is face to face so we can see each other’s eyes, read body language, hear vocal tone and inflection, and more immediately respond to what’s being said, even if that’s just with gentle eyes or a touch. Phone calls are second best, so we can hear each other’s voices which tell us a lot.
When you call, speak softly from your heart so she can tell that you’re sincere about bridging this divide to bring understanding back into this special friendship. If she’s still not receptive and this mishap has occurred recently, I’d allow some time and space for each of you to cool off to ponder what happened and where you go from here. A handwritten note sent snail mail is also a nice gesture. Hopefully, your friendship is solid enough to be open to working things out and not holding grudges.
Collectively, we would be best served to be more mindful of what we choose to engage in when texting, since the interpretation of our message is left to the receiver on the other end. It’s really easy to read something between the lines that isn’t actually there.
Depending on who we’re communicating with, most of us have a subconscious tendency to read emails and texts with a certain “tone” in our head, whether we realize it or not. I have younger friends who I know read some of my messages with the “voice” of a mother, especially if I’m sharing counsel or making a difficult observation which can sometimes twist the feel of what I’m actually saying and how I’m saying it. Therefore, I often check in to try to ensure that what I’m meaning is actually being properly received in writing.
If we’re communicating with a co-worker or a family member with whom we don’t see eye to eye or with whom we’ve had a difficult relationship, we have a tendency to read their words through the “tone” of that history even though it may not have been sent with that intention at all. I call these “trigger lenses,” for we often end up getting triggered because we view these people through a certain lens that may be tinted or skewed from past hurts or misunderstandings. Therefore, immediately ending the texting and picking up the phone as soon as the texts start generating hard feelings would be best to keep relationships intact. This can potentially save lots of time and heartache.
Q: My friend cancels most of the plans we make and often at the very last minute. This aggravates me. What can I do?— Feeling Undervalued
A: Dear Feeling Undervalued,
This may not be personal to you, but may just be a blind spot that she doesn’t fully realize. I’d approach her when you’re in a neutral place and can talk about it without emotional charge. Speak from an “I feel…” place instead of from a “You…” place so you can convey why it’s an issue for you. Explain what it feels like, and ask why it seems to happen so consistently. You might learn a little more about her process and can speak your future needs into the space if you continue to make plans with her. If she doesn’t stop, you may just need to create a boundary by not making any more plans with her because she’s unreliable.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at @Ask Alecia on Facebook.