My world revolves mostly around email to keep in contact people, it’s partly a time-difference thing, a generational thing, and probably because I like to write. In a Myer Briggs personality test many years ago it came up that in work I had liked to write rather than talk on the phone. I had thought I enjoyed writing because of the control, and ability to edit and censor myself – that talking does take more thinking on your feet and “winging” it. In the past this has felt true, except now I know how more effective phones calls and real conversations are.
After weeks of emails trying to sort out a time, I finally got on a phone call to my friend Medina. In this we discussed how what we covered in topics in the hour, might have taken a zillion emails over weeks, and how the conversation naturally flows different. I had written a similar thing to my friend Paul, who I mostly write to, but in a brief call I recognised and enjoyed the presence of tone, laughter and it’s just faster to get to the point. I also find my emails to him and others can be a bit one-sided, and there is time lag, and non responses that changes conversation flows.
I had written to Paul with some angst about a stressful event which he responded that he had found it somehow sweetly funny. It was in this particular email exchange as well as others, it was clear to me how readers can add tone and meaning to text. I too could see it as funny as I reread the email, though it was not intended to be. Likewise I had written “you sux” which was meant to be humourous, but also might not have been read as such.
This misreading was the original idea in this project with the “I just wanted to say…” statements that could be written in the negative to be read in the positive. In the end the statements are mostly written as positive.
Words can be misread but they can also lose their power too. I wrote a whole lot going through my early Landmark course. I had things to get off my chest, and certainly some of my writing is diary-like, streams of consciousness, and there were horrible instances of no filter too. I have mostly regained balance in that, but there were many times I was misread even when I could pour myself honestly and openly into writing.
Writing is still communication that I treasure, but acknowledge it as a different, at times less effective, form than to phone calls and in person conversations. I can write “I love you”, “I miss you” but would it, could it ever be the same than saying it?
There’s power and presence in talking and also the value of talking is that you won’t likely be misread or misunderstood.