“Perhaps your child has mentally checked out.” I typed it, sent it—and later regretted it.
The end of the school year was approaching. Some of my “A” student’s grades were slipping. I wasn’t alarmed; it was a normal occurrence. Parents and grandparents, however, were worried. So I sent a mass email suggesting a few reasons for the current situation. One of which was the possibility of mental checkout. It was a tongue-in-cheek expression meaning to lose focus. I even commented that we teachers were facing an identical challenge. The majority of the parents understood my expression. One, though, requested a conference. A face-to-face meeting quickly cleared up the confusion. My words were not chosen carefully.
Communication occurs daily but perhaps not as I wish or intend. Common communication forms in our tech savvy world are emailing, texting, Facebook messaging, Instagraming, and Snap Chatting. These methods regularly replace calling, face timing, or speaking in person. What’s lost in the process—and what makes communicating simpler yet more challenging, is the tone of one’s voice. This parent couldn’t hear my tongue-in-cheek tone, nor can I hear the tones that confront me daily through our tech enriched methods. Why else do we resort to smiley and frowny faces, thumbs up, lol’s, and haha’s?
Regardless of where our technological advances may take us with communication, nothing can replace forms where a person’s tone and facial expressions are heard and observed. Tone and body language speak volumes. When possible, I use these methods. Yet I, too, am a fan of the modern forms. They are convenient and time saving. But I’ve learned the hard way that using them requires even more care than when communicating the old fashioned way. I must choose my words carefully and find expressions that allow my tone to bleed through.
Like David, when I’m communicating with others—in whatever form I use, I want my words to honor God, be correctly understood, and bring positive results.
Prayer: Almighty Father, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, our strength and Redeemer.