Are you “hearing” what I’m typing?

One of the aspects discussed in our lesson this week on Organizational Life and Teams was effective communication through the channel of email. I am going to expand this conversation to include the channels of text messages and any type of social media that has consumed individuals and businesses all around the world today such as Facebook, Instagram and twitter.

How many times have you texted a friend, or put out a tweet where you didn’t get the response you were looking for? We’ve all been there. Confused you wonder how that message was misconstrued. These were your friends after all and they should have been able to “pick up what you were laying down”. Well according to the studies conducted in the article by Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (2005) Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think?, this is not the case. The studies showed evidence that it did not matter whether you were friends or strangers there would still be a disconnect between the way the message was encoded, how it was constructed by the sender and transmitted, and decoded or perceived by the receiver.

Just imagine, if your own friends could mistake something you typed to them, how many strangers or coworkers have you possibly offended! I thought this was an interesting development. Most people would assume that the people that know you the best would be able to properly interpret the things you say via computer-moderated communication. Knowing this is not necessarily true, it gives you something to think about. Anytime you sit down to your computer or pick up your cell phone, whether it be to type up an email, send a text or post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you better think about what your about to say and how you want to come across without having paralinguistic ques to help carry your message.
Is the receiver going to be able to “hear” what you’re typing?

-Shea Hubler

Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (2005). Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(6), 925-936. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.89.6.925


  1. Good Evening Shea!

    Great post! I agree there are so many times that we go on social media and send messages thinking that our speech has been clearly displayed, only to realize that it was not humorous, sincere or may have been offensive. This goes for not only social media, but chat rooms and text messages as well.

    There is a lot of verbal cues that are unfortunately lost when we communicate via electronics. It’s sad that we so frequently are quick to question others but at times don’t realize where our communication skills could have been at fault. I truly believe that we need to be open in communication, sincere in writing and listen carefully to better converse with one another.

    I also agree that the emoji’s may not be the most professional but can help with the communication styles that we display and that something similar may help ease the miscommunication that is shown through emails in the workplace. Business should remain professional, and proper communication etiquette is a necessity to avoid issues of communicating in the workplace.

    Thank you,

  2. This weekend I watched the Sci-Fi movie “Arrival” (the one where the alien pods come to Earth and Amy Adams’ character is attempting to communicate with them. Potential spoilers ahead!). I admit that I fell asleep about half-way through, but my husband caught me up this morning on what I missed. It’s actually a really interesting movie if you’re into that kind of thing. The aliens do have their own language, but they do not speak and instead use ink in their “hands” to draw intricate circles, which tell a story. But their species does not look at time in a linear fashion (i.e., they have no past or future tenses, and instead everything is within the present, so to speak). This caused confusion on the part of the humans, whose communication is so rooted in time that we have specific words and phrases just so the receiver is clear about when the things we are speaking of happened.

    One of the plots of the movie was that the aliens used a word that could be deciphered as “weapon” but, due to the non-human nature of their communication, could also mean “tool.” This confusion in meaning and intent, just as an ambiguously worded e-mail or text message, left the receivers (humans) puzzled and also scared– they wanted to attack and kill the senders (aliens) because they felt threatened by the unknown. Although I don’t often feel like killing my friends after reading their text messages, I can’t say that I haven’t gotten my feelings hurt because I wrongly understood a message that, not only was in my native language, but from a person I know well.

    Clearly we’ve come a long way with our modes of communication, but what we save in time, we lose in understanding. I think the invention and use of emojis is really interesting, because they add a level of nonverbal communication to our messages that can be understood across cultures and languages. For instance, a smile 🙂 is understood to mean happiness, while a face with a tear :'( means someone (or something) is sad. Now we even have the super-specific emojis found on the iPhone and other devices that allow us to say even more. They’re not very appropriate and business-like to use at work, but I think if we could utilize something similar, there could be less confusion and conflict within companies that use a lot of e-mail or other messaging with colleagues.

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