Posts tagged face your enemy

When real conversation requires more than a text



When I was a freshman in college — back when I was skinny and long-haired and pretty inexperienced when it came to relationships — I met a girl named Nancy. We sat together five days a week in a French class, and at some point we began dating. I wouldn’t say it was serious, but between those dates and our class, we certainly saw each other often.

A few months later, the French class was over; we didn’t see each other as often, and the attraction began to fade for me. It was time to be honest with her and tell her that I enjoyed our friendship, but I didn’t see our dating relationship going anywhere. Meet with her and have a mature, yet positive conversation.

Did I mention that, at age 18, I was also stupid and cowardly? We never had that conversation. Instead, I just stopped calling her. Cut her off completely.

My guess is that after a few weeks she figured a couple of things out:

  • I wasn’t going to ask her out on dates any more.
  • I was a jerk who wasn’t worth dating, anyway.

Fast forward a few years, and I see that people today have not gained much in wisdom. When it comes to breaking off a relationship, or working through a conflict, today we have all kinds of new technology that helps us take the easy way out.

If I was the same wimpy kid today and in the same situation, I’d probably break up through e-mail or text messaging. It’s very easy nowadays to use email and text messaging to avoid the difficult real conversations, disagreements, or conflicts.

This applies to all of us, not just singles. We face a disagreement or conflict with a co-worker, a friend, a family member, a wife, and we look for the easy way out by avoiding a face-to-face conversation.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if men are guilty of this more than women.

I’ve found that when I try to resolve something through email, it’s easy to misunderstand each other. Words are misinterpreted or attached to emotions that were not intended. You miss the facial expressions, the body language, and the tone of voice that communicate just as strongly as the actual words.  And, NO, using emoticons doesn’t make it any better :-).

It’s interesting to read some of the scriptural passages about resolving conflict in light of today’s technology. For example, 1 Peter 3:8-9 tells us, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…” (NASB).

What impresses me here is that it’s very difficult to communicate a spirit of harmony, sympathy, kindheartedness, and humility through email or text messaging. These qualities — so essential to resolving a disagreement or conflict — are best conveyed in person.

If you are the type of person who instinctively avoids any type of confrontation, perhaps you’ve settled into this bad habit of using electronic communication to avoid real conversation. Perhaps you’re doing it with your spouse.

Let me encourage you as a man, colleague, father, and husband to step up and into your relationships rather than away from them. Be courageous.

Relationships are multi-faceted and often require heart-to-heart, face contorting, voice inflected communication. And that won’t happen in a text message or email.

Let me ask you: Have often have you tried to resolve a disagreement or conflict with someone by email or text message? How has that worked for you?

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