Words have power.
Words echo in our ears and sink into our hearts. It doesn’t matter how hard the outer shell is—words penetrate deeply and have the ability to lift us up or tear us down.
Saying certain things out loud has never been easy. Now, with electronic communications—from email to Twitter—words can be thrown around with complete disregard for the recipient. Why? No eye contact. No face-to-face. No shared physical space. The reality and magnitude of the comment is without context. Often the comment is detached from a “real” person and, thus, lacks any relational implications.
Communicating with written word is not a new thing. Letters and notes have been written for centuries. So, what’s different? Immediacy. The ability to communicate so quickly frees the communicator from reflection and processing . . . if they choose. Far too often people push send or post and think, “Oops. . . . I shouldn’t have said that.” It felt right at the moment, and then we reflect on the magnitude of the words we wrote or the relationship that may be stake as a result.
Let’s think about this all in the context of school communities. Schools are a hub for communication. I would argue that the overall success of a school depends on how well the school communicates with its stakeholders. Key communication happens every day among administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Without question, the majority of communication happens electronically—in written words. The non-verbals are out the door, and we rest on our ability to read an email, tweet, or Facebook message.
Do we have time for all the electronic communications? Simply put: no. We need to make time. Making time to effectively communicate demonstrates that the receiver or sender is a priority and that their relationship with us is important. It has the ability to deepen a relationship.
Chuck Commeret serves as technology teacher and theatre/auditorium manager at Holland Christian High School in Holland, MI.